Huskies Split Doubleheader With Southern Illinois, Take Series Finale

GO HUSKIES Alex Beckmann reached base five times for the Huskies on Saturday.
Alex Beckmann reached base five times for the Huskies on Saturday.

March 20, 2010

Game One Final Stats

Game Two Final Stats

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CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Northern Illinois baseball team split its doubleheader against intrastate rival Southern Illinois on Saturday at Abe Martin Field, dropping Game One, 5-2, before heading home with a 13-9 victory in Game Two.

"When you're on the road for a doubleheader, you obviously want to win both," said NIU (4-14) head coach Ed Mathey, who is now 12-10 against the Salukis (7-12) in his eighth year as a Huskie, and owns a 52-26 mark over Illinois opponents. "It's not easy to do. I liked the way we bounced back from the first loss. We played pretty well in Game One, but gave them some runs they shouldn't have had. We showed good signs by coming back for the win in the second game. If you have to win one of those games, the last one is the game to win."

The Huskies jumped out to a first inning lead in all three games of the series but it was only in the finale that NIU was able to turn an early advantage into a victory. NIU jumped out to a three-run lead in the initial frame of Game Two, and added three runs apiece in the second, fifth, and sixth innings, and one in the third, to keep the pressure on the SIU pitching staff, as the Huskies patiently took advantage of 11 free passes to score 13 runs on 12 hits.

"The walks assisted us, but the thing we were able to do was sustain some innings with hits," Mathey said. "We had four three-run innings because it. We needed those runs because they put a five-spot on us late, which made things interesting in the end, but we finished it."

Brian Riegler led the NIU free pass list with four walks, leading to three runs scored, while Cory Krupp had three, and all but three Huskies tallied a walk in the latter contest. Troy White fronted the run producing effort with three RBI on a double to left-center in the first, fielder's choice grounder in the second, and infield single deep in the hole at short stop in the sixth. Additionally, Krupp, who also stole his seventh base of the season, Alex Beckmann, and Dave Reynolds had a pair of singles and two RBI each, while Jake Hermsen blasted his third home run of the month in the sixth on an opposite field moonshot to right.

Being spotted with plenty of runs, NIU starter Jeremy Gonzales was able to improve his record to 2-0, despite allowing eight runs on 10 hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 5.2 innings. The key moment in getting the win for Gonzales came in the third inning after allowing the Salukis to load the bases with one out. The righty kept the ball low, nearly inducing an inning-ending double play ball to third, but Riegler did not have enough time to make the throw to first after White's throw home for the force-out. Gonzales stayed low to the next batter, and got an easy grounder to come back to him, as he fielded the ball and tagged the runner out himself to end the threat, preserving a 7-3 lead.

"There's no doubt that the third inning was pivotal for Jeremy, and for our team, too," said Mathey. Throwing up that zero kept momentum on our side. He did a good job of pitching in that inning. He goes out and battles, whether he's on his A-game, like was in Bakersfield, or struggling a bit, like he did today. He gives us a chance to win every time he's out there."

The Salukis got Gonzales into trouble again in the sixth by plating five runs against him, forcing Kyle Glancy to bridge the gap to stopper Andy Deain. Both Glancy and Deain appeared in Game One, but did well in getting warmed-up again to hold down the win. En route to his third save of the season, Deain came into the eighth inning with the 13-9 advantage, one out, and runners on first and second, but handled the situation with no problem by getting a grounder for a White-Beckmann-Joe Etcheverry inning-ending double play. The righty then relatively easily worked the ninth to nail it down, surrendering just one hit with one strikeout in 1.2 innings.

"Unfortunately, Kyle Glancy walked a couple of guys near the bottom of their order, and we brought in Andy to face their three-hitter," said Mathey. "The potential tying run was on-deck, and that was a huge double play ball that he rolled up. That knocked their momentum down and he closed it down in the ninth. Andy is starting to really pitch well now, and that is very beneficial to our pitching staff and team."

SIU starter Randy Hoelscher (0-2) was saddled with the loss after being run out of the game behind a one-plus inning performance, in which he allowed five runs on three walks and three hits with one strikeout.

In the first game of the day, NIU was given two runs in the first inning after an errant throw from third base on a White batted ball allowed Beckmann and Jordin Hood to score, but the Huskies were unable to muster any runs on their own after that.

"Chuck did throw the ball well, but we just didn't get anything going offensively," Mathey said. "Their pitcher did a nice job. We just didn't swing the bats well and had a few defensive miscues that hurt us."

Despite a quality start, NIU starter Chuck Lukanen was handed the loss (1-4) after the Salukis scored two in the fourth and two in the sixth, only two were earned runs, as he gave up six hits and three walks with an impressive eight strikeouts.

Saluki hurler Lee Weld (1-3) earned the win in relief by allowing just three hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Weld replaced starter Nathan Forer, who gave up two unearned runs on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 4.1 innings.

Beckmann led the Huskie offense in the former game with two hits. White and Alex Jones added a hit apiece, while Jamison Wells picked up his first collegiate hit on a single to short stop in the seventh inning.

Next up for the Huskies is their first home game of the season, a 3 p.m. first pitch, against the Milwaukee Panthers at Ralph McKinzie Field on Wednesday, March 24.




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