NIU Blanks SIU In 1-0 Triumph

GO HUSKIES Chuck Lukanen pitched seven shutout innings to earn his first victory in a Huskie uniform.
GO HUSKIES
Chuck Lukanen pitched seven shutout innings to earn his first victory in a Huskie uniform.
GO HUSKIES

March 7, 2009

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Carbondale, Ill. - After receiving a solid performance from senior Andy Deain (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge) in yesterday's win, the Northern Illinois baseball team got an even more impressive performance from the combination of junior starter Chuck Lukanen (Lombard, Ill./North Iowa Area C.C.), sophomore Zach Oates (Wheaton, Ill./North) and junior Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg), who shutout Southern Illinois (3-9) for a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon at Abe Martin Field.

In NIU's (4-6) first shutout since doing so against Kent State on April 6, 2007, Lukanen lasted a season-high seven innings while Oates and Reynolds finished the last two innings, respectively. Lukanen (1-2), who earned his first win as a Huskie, surrendered six hits and a walk with two strikeouts while Oates tied a career high with a pair of strikeouts as well. Reynolds picked up his third save and has yet to give up a run in his 5.2 innings of work in which he has given up four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.

"The pitchers did a great job today," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "They threw a lot of strikes early and often and had good defense behind them. Chuck Lukanen did a great job, as did Zach Oates and Dave Reynolds, who battled through the ninth.

"Obviously, when you are pitching the ball well, you have a good chance to win. The pitching has been there, yesterday it was the offense that came through and today it was the defense. Everybody is starting to get a little bit more comfortable with their roles. If we can continue to get production from the veterans, it will help the younger guys come along even faster."

Reynolds also scored NIU's lone run. He sparked the Huskies by starting the seventh inning with a single to right field and then stole second base to get into scoring position for senior Justin Behm (Downers Grove, Ill./North), who walked. With sophomore Joe Etcheverry (Bakersfield, Calif./Centennial) batting, a wild pitch allowed the runners to advance and Etcheverry then delivered an RBI sacrifice fly to center field that scored Reynolds.

"Reynolds got a base hit there to lead off the seventh and then stole second on a busted hit-and-run play," Mathey said. "Then we got a ball in the dirt to get him over and Joe Etcheverry did a good job of getting the run in."

The Salukis responded in the bottom of the seventh by threatening with a two out rally. After a pair of ground outs, Tony Lepore singled to left and Aaron Roberts drew a walk, but Lukanen got Chris Murphy to fly out to left to end the threat.

In the ninth, the Salukis threatened once again, but to no avail. Jordan Sivertsen led off with a single to left and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by John Brennan. Wade Dutton followed with an infield single, but Sivertsen was unable to advance to third. Reynolds then got Lepore and Roberts to ground into a pair of fielder's choice ground outs to second base to end the game.

"Reynolds did a good job of keeping them off balance, leaning on their front foot," said Mathey. "We caught a bad break on the second hit of the inning because Matt Behren slipped while trying to field a softly hit ball that rolled only a few feet in front of home plate, but Dave hung there and kept his composure to get the grounder to Troy White to end it."

SIU starter Nathan Forer (0-2) was tagged with the loss despite giving up just the one earned run on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

Dutton and Lepore led the Saluki offense with two hits apiece.

Reynolds led the Huskie offense with a 2-for-4 performance while junior Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) and freshman Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) tallied NIU's only other hits.

The two teams meet again tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT in the final game of the series as NIU freshman righty Chris Wakefield (Canton, Ga./Cherokee) (0-2, 9.58 ERA, nine walks and four strikeouts) matches up against lefty Jimmy Cornell (0-1, 3.12 ERA, three walks and seven strikeouts). Fans can follow live via GameTracker on www.niuhuskies.com and can watch live streaming video on www.siusalukis.com.

-NIU-

Huskie Notes

- Over last two games, NIU starting pitchers Andy Deain and Chuck Lukanen have combined to go 14 innings without giving up an earned run while giving up 11 hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

- NIU has won five of its last six games against SIU and has now won four of the six three-game series against the Salukis.

- NIU has had at least one player record a multi-hit game in all 10 games this year, led by Jordin Hood, who has five.

- Jordin Hood has a five-game hitting streak and has gotten a hit in all but one of NIU's 10 games this season. On the season, he is 16-for-34 at the plate with a .561 on-base percentage and a .676 slugging percentage.

- Dave Reynolds has a six-game hitting streak and has gotten a hit in all but one game of NIU's 10 games. He is 11-for-23 in his last six games.

- Zach Oates has five straight scoreless appearances over four innings with, allowing one hit and two walks along with six strikeouts.