March 15, 2009
Cape Girardeau, Mo. - The Northern Illinois baseball team tallied season-bests with 17 runs on 16 hits, four of which went over the fence, to power past Southeast Missouri State 17-10 at Capaha Field on Sunday afternoon to salvage the final contest of a four-game series. The Huskies (5-12) added to their first run scoring trend in the series by scoring three runs in the first inning on senior Justin Behm's (Downers Grove, Ill./North) first homerun of the day. In the four games, NIU combined for nine runs in the first inning.
"We came out in the first inning throughout most of the series swinging the bats well," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "Our offense did pretty well the entire series. We had some situations that we didn't convert on, but kept getting guys in position and came through. We took advantage of a couple mistakes in the first inning today and Behm came through with a big homerun."
NIU also continued its trend of scoring runs with two outs in the series as they pushed across seven two-out runs. Against the Redhawks (10-6), 21 of the Huskies' 38 runs came with two outs. Three of the seven in the final game came off Behm's first inning homer. Three more came in the fourth as Behm reached on an error to score a run, senior Matt Behren (Elmwood Park, Ill./Holy Cross) singled home a run and Behm scored on a wild pitch. The final run came on junior Joe Buonavolanto's (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale South) first homerun of the year in the fifth.
"Our success with two outs in this series is just good clutch hitting," said Mathey. "That's teammates picking each other up. We have had a good approach at the plate and if that continues, we will be successful."
With an 8-4 lead heading into the seventh inning, the Huskies put the game out of reach by scoring six runs on five hits, all with no outs. After freshman Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper) hit his first collegiate homerun in the fifth, he led off the seventh with his first triple to set up fellow freshman Alex Beckmann (Batavia, Ill./Batavia), who followed through with an RBI single. On the next sequence, Buonavolanto walked and junior Jordin Hood followed with a two-run double. The next batter, junior Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg), delivered a run-scoring single and then Behm capped the inning with his second homer of the day to score a pair, marking his third career two homer game.
NIU senior starter Nick Badgley (McHenry, Ill./McHenry C.C.) earned his first win as a Huskie by going six innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits with two walks and a career best three strikeouts. SEMO starter John Salazar (0-1) took the loss as he surrendered six unearned runs on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
"I give a lot of credit to Nick, who kept a high powered offense in check and didn't let them have a three or four or five run inning which was huge for us," said Mathey. "He's a senior and he looked like it today. He came out aggressive and made good pitches. He came off the mound smiling after the first inning and he enjoyed the moment. I hope our younger pitchers picked up on that approach."
Six Huskies registered multiple hits for the second game in a row, led by Buonavolanto and Behm, who each had three. Behm's 3-for-6 day was highlighted by two homers, five RBI and a career-high three runs scored. Buonavolanto's three hits tied a career best as he had a homer, two RBI and scored a career-high four runs. Hood went 2-for-4, tying career-highs with four RBI and three runs scored while stealing his team-high seventh base of the year. Reynolds went 2-for-4 with a run driven in and scored two runs. Behren went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Jones finished 2-for-4 with a season-high three runs scored, recorded his first triple and had an RBI on his first homer.
"Justin, Joe and Alex are all swinging the bats well right now," Mathey said. "Justin is coming back to being a good hitter like we know he is, using the entire field. It's a good thing for him to get into a groove and we hope he can stay there. Alex took a while to get his first hit and now is feeling comfortable and is not pressing as much. He is getting to the point where he understands that he can be a good player for us. It's good to see Joe get his bat going like we know he can as well."
Jim Klocke led the Redhawks with a 3-for-4 day at the plate and a run scored while Justin Wheeler and Tony Spencer each drove in two runs.
The Huskies start Mid-American Conference competition next weekend with a three-game series against Buffalo (7-8) in NIU's home opening weekend at Ralph McKinzie Field. The teams will play at 3:05 p.m. CT on Friday and then at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- NIU has had a player tally multiple hits in all 17 games, led by Jordin Hood's eight.
- Justin Behm moved up to eighth on the all-time NIU homerun list with his 19th and 20th career homers.
- The Huskies totaled 10 or more hits in all four games against SEMO and have done so 10 times overall.
- Dave Reynolds has a career-high 13-game hitting streak.
- Jordin Hood has a 12-game hitting streak.
- Matt Behren has a six game hitting streak.
- Tom Barry tied a career-high longest outing by pitching the seventh inning.