NIU Falls To Kent State 9-3 In First Game Of Three Game Series

GO HUSKIES Matt Behren launched his fourth career homer in the third inning.
Matt Behren launched his fourth career homer in the third inning.

April 3, 2009

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Kent, Ohio - The Northern Illinois baseball team dropped the first game, 9-3, of a three-game Mid-American Conference series with Kent State on Friday afternoon at Schoonover Stadium after the Golden Flashes (19-6, 5-1 MAC) scored a combined six runs in the third, fourth, and fifth innings against the Huskies (11-15, 4-2 MAC).

"You can't give a good team four extra outs on the defensive side and walk guys the way we did," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey on his team's four errors and four walks. "Chuck Lukanen didn't pitch as well as he had been, and it was cold and rainy, but they are a good baseball team. I give them credit. They played good baseball today."

KSU starter Brad Stillings improved to 4-0 by throwing six innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. Andrew Chafin finished the final three innings to earn his fourth save of the year, while giving up just one hit and recording seven strikeouts. NIU starter Chuck Lukanen (Lombard, Ill./North Iowa Area C.C.) was tagged with the loss (3-4) as he gave up six earned runs on 11 hits and three walks along with three strikeouts in five innings.

The Kent State offense was paced by Anthony Gallas, Chris Tremblay, and Jimmy Rider, who each had three hits. Tremblay scored two runs and drove in another, while Rider scored three runs. Gallas led the Golden Flashes with three RBI on two hits, including a two-run homer, and scored a run. Ben Klafczynksi also tallied two hits and drove in a run.

Matt Behren (Elmwood Park, Ill./Holy Cross) led NIU with one hit, a three-run homer, and three RBI. Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) added his 12th multi-hit game of the year with two hits. Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper), Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) and Kevin Smith (Wheaton, Ill./North) each had a hit as well.

Kent State got out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning as Rider tripled to right field with one out, and then Gallas followed with a two-run homerun to left-center.

The Huskies threatened in the second, but came up short as NIU had White on second after reaching on a fielder's choice and Joe Buonavolanto (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale South) on first after a walk with two outs, but Pat Minogue (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) grounded out to the pitcher.

With one out in the third, Beckmann reached on a walk and Hood singled through the right side to set up Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg), who struck out swinging. However, Behren then came through with a three-run homer to right-centerfield to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead.

"At that time we were feeling pretty good," Mathey said. "Beckman got on base and Hood did a nice job taking it the other way. Matt had a good count and took a great swing. Kent State then came back with runs however. We talk about momentum and we couldn't limit them to zeroes today after we took the lead."

The Golden Flashes came right back in the bottom of the third though. Tremblay led off with a single up the middle and Rider followed with a walk. Then, Gallas delivered again this time with an RBI double to right that tied the game 3-3. Following a Greg Rohan walk, KSU then took a 4-3 lead after Brad Winter grounded into a bases-loaded 6-4-3 double play. Lukanen then got out of the inning by getting Klafczynski to fly out to right.

NIU had another chance to get a run in the fourth, but couldn't get a run across as Jones hit a two-out double to center, but Beckmann struck out swinging.

Ryan Mitchell started the fourth for Kent State with a triple to center, and after Lukenen struck out Jared Humphreys, Cory Hindel hit an RBU sacrifice fly to right to extend the KSU lead back to two runs at 5-3. After Tremblay singled up the middle and Rider singled to right, Gallas singled to short and Jones throwing error allowed two runs to score before Rohan lined out to Jones to end the inning.

The Huskies again had a runner on second with one out in the fifth after Hood was hit by a pitch and Behren walked, but Hood was thrown out at third on a double steal, and then White grounded out to short.

Kent State scored a run apiece in the bottom of the fifth and eighth frames on RBI singles by Klafczynski and Trembaly, respectively, to go up 9-3.

The two teams play again at 12 p.m. CT tomorrow and Sunday. Saturday's pitching matchup will be NIU RHP Nick Badgley (2-2, 4.40, 28.2 IP, 15 BB, 13 SO) versus KSU RHP Kyle Smith (2-1, 2.84, 25.1 IP, 10 BB, 23 SO). Sunday's pitching matchup presents NIU LHP Dave Reynolds (0-1, 5.95, 19.2 IP, 5 BB, 14 SO) against KSU's starter that has not been announced yet. For live stats of each game, click here. For free streaming radio of each game, click here.


Huskie Notes

- Matt Behren's homer in the third marked a new career-high total for a season with two, doubling his career total to four as he entered the season with two career homers.

- Cody Beck made his Huskie debut by pitching the eighth inning, giving up an earned run on a hit and a walk.

- Chris Wakefield made his first scoreless appearance of the season by throwing a perfect seventh inning.

- Zach Oates completed his third straight scoreless appearance by giving up just a hit along with recording a strikeout in the sixth inning. He has nine scoreless appearances this season.

- Kevin Smith got his first hit of the season in the ninth inning.

- Dave Reynolds' 20-game hitting streak ended, which goes down as the second longest streak in the program's history.

- NIU has had a player get multiple hits in all but three games this season.



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