April 6, 2010
NORMAL, Ill. - Two crooked number innings helped the Northern Illinois baseball team take down Illinois State, 11-4, in non-conference intrastate action on a breezy, but warm and sunny, evening at Duffy Bass Field Tuesday as the Huskies (10-17, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) scored five in the second inning and four in the fifth to improve to 3-2 against Illinois opponents in 2010, 54-26 under eighth-year head coach Ed Mathey.
"It was good to get off to a good start," said Mathey, who is now 7-3 against the Redbirds (12-14, 2-1 Missouri Valley Conference). " I tossed the line-up around a bit because I thought we were stalling and it looked pretty good today. The pitcher that they started was a conference arm for them last year. It just shows what we are capable of doing when we are right."
With a 1-0 lead after a first inning Dave Reynolds single to right scored Cory Krupp after a walk and steal, the Huskies rallied for five more in the second to set the tone for the win. With one out, Tom Kotis walked, and a Jordin Hood fielder's choice later, a two-out rally ensued as Krupp walked after Hood's delayed steal of second. Reynolds singled through the right side to score Hood and Troy White followed with a double to right-center to score Krupp. Joe Etcheverry's one-hopper then bounced off the second baseman's glove into right for a two-run error, scoring Reynolds and White. Alex Beckmann capped the frame by gapping a triple to left-center to score Etcheverry.
"That second inning was our first five-run inning of the year and it started with a guy on first with two outs," said Mathey. "Then, we kept getting hits and made good decisions on the base paths."
Following a third inning sacrifice fly for ISU, the Huskies distanced themselves in the fifth. Etcheverry started it with a double over the left fielder's head. After Beckmann was hit on the right foot by a low pitch in the dirt and a Marvin Sanchez lineout to center, Brian Riegler singled to center to score Etcheverry, moving Beckmann to third. Following Brian Smith's pinch-hit sacrifice fly to center, Hood blasted a towering two-run home run to left to give NIU a 10-1 advantage.
The Redbirds added a run in the fifth on a two-out bases-loaded walk and two more in the sixth on back-to-back two-out doubles, but the Huskie bullpen sealed it with three scoreless final innings, while White added insurance in the eighth with a two-out double to right-center to score Krupp, who reached on a single through the right side.
"As important as the five-run inning was, I thought the four-run fifth was huge," Mathey said. "Overall, we swung the bats well. We had some guys swinging well that hadn't been swinging well lately. We also got some guys out there to pitch some innings for us that haven't gotten to pitch as much.
"This is a good win for us. Illinois State has been doing a pretty good job. They have a new coaching staff and have been making some noise on the recruiting trail. It's good to come down here and get a convincing win, not letting them back in it because there were a couple times that they could have gotten back into the game. Our bullpen did a good job with Andy Deain on the backend, and Brett Frantini was good. It was good to see Tom Zelasko do well again, too. The big thing is that we have momentum for this weekend."
Despite pitching only three innings, starter Tom Barry (2-2) earned the win because of a coach's pitch count decision. The lefty gave up one run on two hits and three walks with three strikeouts before giving way to the bullpen, which combined to allow three runs on four hits and six walks with eight strikeouts over the final six frames.
"Tom Barry did a good job of keeping momentum on our side," Mathey said. "Obviously, we took him out due to pitch count purposes."
Redbird starter Ryan Camp (3-3) was given the loss after allowing six runs, three earned, on six hits and three walks in 1.2 innings.
White led the Huskies by going 3-for-5 with a trio of doubles, two RBI, and a run scored. Reynolds also had three hits, two RBI, and a run. Hood launched his sixth homer of the year, along with scoring two runs, stealing his ninth base of the year, and getting a single. With his two hits, Hood moved up to third all-time in career hits (234) at NIU, passing Rob Marconi (2001-04 | 233). Beckmann had two hits, a run and RBI, while Etcheverry had two hits, one double, and two runs. Additionally, Krupp reached base three times on a single and two walks to score three runs and stole his 10th base of the season.
"Troy has been doing well and it's great to see," Mathey said. "We hope he continues this production because he was great tonight.
"Jordin is a good player. Part of the reason we moved him to leadoff today was to get him a couple more at-bats. You give him another at-bat and he sees more pitches. It was good to see him locked in and get into a ball. It's been a while since he's had a homer."
NIU will travel to Oxford, Ohio to face Miami (Ohio) in a three-game series this weekend. Games are scheduled for 5 p.m. CDT Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday, and 12 p.m. Sunday.