March 22, 2009
DeKalb, Ill. - With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the score tied 4-4 and the game-winning run in senior Pat Minogue (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) on second, Northern Illinois junior Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) stepped to the plate and delivered a walk-off double to right-center field to give the Huskies (8-12, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) a 5-4 win over Buffalo (8-12, 0-3 MAC) on Sunday afternoon at Ralph McKinzie Field.
Reynolds' hit, which gave NIU its fifth sweep in its last six home opening series and improved the Huskies to 15-0 all-time against the Bulls, came after freshman Alex Beckmann (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Minogue. Then junior Joe Buonavolanto (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale South) executed a sacrifice bunt to move Minogue into scoring position at second base. The next batter, junior Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich), was then intentionally walked to set up Reynolds.
"It was an exciting win," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "Dave did a nice job and we're happy to get out of here with a win. He threw a lot of pitches which is why we took him out. They did a nice job in the second inning by getting some hits. What really helped us out is that our pitchers and hitters have done a good job in the last two days which enabled our bullpen to be fresh for a longer stint today. I thought Zach threw the ball real well.
"Dave has always been good with the bat. I was talking to Dave before that ninth inning and told him that the exact situation that came up could happen and he was ready for it. He got a pitch he could handle and did a good job of working into a hitter's count and doing something with it. That was a great at-bat by Dave. He is a very smart and capable player and we are glad to have him here."
The decisive bottom of the ninth came after the Bulls knotted the game in the top half with a two out rally. Sophomore Tom Zelasko (Lansing, Ill./Mt. Carmel) walked the lead off batter Jacob Rosenbeck, but caught him stealing to eliminate the first threat. He then struck out Shivam Bhan before Brian Randazzo reached on a dropped fly ball by Beckmann in left field which allowed him to get to second. Rob Lawler followed with a game-tying double to right-center and then was thrown out at home on the next play by center fielder Hood on Brad Cochrane's single that ended the inning.
"Jordin Hood had a wonderful throw there," said Mathey. "It was a great play. The way he came after that ball was good and the kid he threw out is a pretty decent runner. Matt Behren made a great tag as well. He is a veteran leader and cornerstone of our defense. He is great to have back there because he does a lot of things well."
Zelasko (2-1) earned his second win of the year, giving up an unearned run on two hits and a walk with a strikeout in the ninth while Zach Anderson (2-3) took the loss for the Bulls after yielding an earned run on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Reynolds started the game on the mound for NIU and lasted a season-long 5.1 innings, surrendering two earned runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Sophomore Zach Oates (Wheaton, Ill./North) threw a perfect 2.2 innings with a career-high five strikeouts before giving way to Zelasko in the ninth. Buffalo starter Pierre Miville-Deschenes gave up two earned runs on eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings.
Freshman Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper) led the Huskie offense with a 2-for-4 performance, scoring a run and driving one in. Reynolds also tallied two hits his lone RBI being the game winner. Additionally, Hood went 1-for-2 with two RBI.
Lawler led the Bulls with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, a run scored and two RBI.
The Bulls jumped out to a 3-0 lead after scoring three in the second inning. Lawler singled home a run and then Brad Agustin's sacrifice fly allowed another run to score on a very close play at the plate. A fielding error by freshman Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) on a grounder from Adam Skonieczki then allowed the third run to score.
NIU cut the gap to one run with a two-run fourth as sophomore Joe Etcheverry (Bakersfield, Calif./Centennial) led off with a walk and Jones reached on a bunt single. Then with two outs, Hood came through with a two-run double down the left field line.
"We were able to get some guys on and those two runs got us back in to the game," Mathey said. "We talk about momentum a lot and that gave us a chance to keep it close until we capitalized later."
Three Buffalo errors in the sixth inning then allowed the Huskies to score two runs and take a 4-3 lead. White and Etcheverry started the inning by both reaching on errors then Jones doubled to left to score both as Etcheverry scored after a dropped relay throw.
"It's a great way to start MAC play," Mathey said. "We are defending our home turf, which is important. Winning the series is big and winning the series 3-0 is even better. We kind of equate MAC play to a game where we have nine weekends or innings. Just because you win the first inning doesn't mean you win the game. So we have to go out next weekend for inning number two against a pretty good Bowling Green team. We won the first inning so hopefully we can take it from here."
The Huskies head to Peoria, Ill. on Tuesday to take on Bradley (5-11, 0-3 Missouri Valley Conference) in a doubleheader that starts at 4 p.m CT.
- Jordin Hood has now tied his career-high 15-game hitting streak which he established last season and has had four multi-RBI games in his last five.
- Dave Reynolds has a career-best 16-game hitting streak.
- Alex Jones has a seven-game hitting streak.
- Matt Behren has a nine-game hitting streak.
- The Huskies have had a player get multiple hits in every game this season, led by Jordin Hood's 10.