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DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois baseball team scored a season-high 10 runs in its Mid-American Conference opener against Akron, defeating the Zips, 10-5. NIU (7-19, 1-2 MAC) combined for 10 hits, three of which came from Alex Jones, who also added four RBI in the contest.
“It’s always good to get the first win of the series out of the way,” said Head Coach Ed Mathey, “Akron came out and was really aggressive on Taylor (Nawrocki) but he did a great job of keeping us in this ball game. We had consistent threats in the game and we took advantage of some errors and really kept our foot on the throttle in the game. Alex Jones had one heck of a day for us as well, that always helps.”
Akron (9-16, 2-2 MAC) opened the first inning with two doubles and a single to tack on three runs and gain a 3-0 advantage. In the bottom of the second the Huskies batted around the order and then some, scoring seven runs to gain a 7-3 advantage over the Zips. With the bases loaded, pitcher Andrew Brown walked in two runs and Jones singled up the middle past Brown to drive in two runs. Jordan Huffman doubled to add a run, while Jeff Zimmerman and Alex Klonowski grounded out to drive runners in.
In the fifth inning, Northern Illinois built an 8-4 lead when Klonowski singled to the shortstop and advanced to second on a throwing error. He scored on the following at-bat when Troy White singled to double the Huskies lead.
Following a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” by former Huskie football players Chad Spann (Pittsburgh Steelers) and DeMarcus Grady, the Huskies were scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, but would go on to score their final two runs in the eighth. With the Huskies reaching on consecutive walks, Jamison Wells advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt to set up Jones’ for another pair of RBI with his 10th double of the season and lift NIU, 10-5.
On the mound Taylor Nawrocki was rock solid for NIU in his eight innings of work, striking out six and walking three. He posted goose eggs on the scoreboard in five tilts and only surrendered seven hits. Freshman Ben Neumann stepped onto the bump in the ninth inning in relief and pitched his first complete inning of work, slinging two sidearm strikeouts to the Zips batters. He only allowed one hit in the inning and did not allow a single walk.
Northern Illinois will meet Akron again tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 p.m. at Ralph McKinzie Field.