March 11, 2012
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Northern Illinois accounted for 13 hits and nine runs against Dayton in the team's final game of the Riverview Inn Challenge, but the Flyers would take the contest, 13-9. Sophomore Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park, Ill./Victor J Andrew) hit two home runs and three RBI for the Huskies.
"We hit the ball well today, like we did all weekend, however, we still need to improve upon our pitching," stated Head Coach Ed Mathey after the loss. "We had a lead heading into the ninth and we gave away some runs. We just need to learn how to finish those kinds of games out as a team"
Runs and hits were at a premium in the contest as both teams combined for 32 hits and 22 runs. Dayton (4-9) scored the first five runs of the game to take a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning, but the Huskies (2-12) rallied back in the bottom half of the fourth with an eight hit, eight run outburst to take an 8-5 lead.
Zimmerman hit a two run homer over center field, followed by RBI singles from Brett Frantini (Minooka, Ill.), Alex Beckmann (Batavia, Ill.) and Jordan Huffmann (Sergaent Bluff, Iowa). Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper) got in the act as well when he belted a two-run home run to right field.
The Flyers peppered the NIU pitching staff, forcing the Huskies to the bullpen in the fourth inning. NIU used nine pitchers in the contest. Dayton tied the game in the sixth inning, 8-8, with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth. Zimmerman broke the Huskies away in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run, his second of the game and third of the season, to lift Northern Illinois, 9-8.
In the top of the ninth, Dayton tied the game on a double by Brian Blasik and added four more runs to take a 13-9 lead. Northern Illinois attempted a comeback when Jones singled through the right side and stole second and third, but with two outs, senior Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) struck out to end the comeback and the ball game.
NIU totaled eight pitchers from the bullpen the contests, with Eli Anderson (Glenview, Ill./New Trier) pitching the sixth and seventh innings of the game. He surrendered two hits, two runs and one walk.
The Huskies will return to action March 13 for a two-game series against Saint Louis. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m.
Jeff Zimmerman's two home runs were his second and third of the season; it was the third multi-home run game of his career ... Jake Hermsen (New London, Wis.) started the game on the mound, pitching three innings and surrendering five runs, four earned and striking out four ... Ben Neumann (Verona, Wis.) made his NIU debut, pitching to one batter in the eighth and forcing the first out of the inning ... Micah McCulloch (Rochelle, Ill.) recorded his third pinch hit of the season in the seventh inning; he's 3-for-4 as a pinch hitter.