Huskies Fall To Northwestern 6-5 On Walk-off Homer

GO HUSKIES Joe Buonavolanto notched two hits and scored a run.
GO HUSKIES
Joe Buonavolanto notched two hits and scored a run.
GO HUSKIES

April 8, 2009

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Evanston, Ill. - With one out, a one-run lead and the tying run on third, Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) came in to replace Tom Zelasko (Lansing, Ill./Mt. Carmel) on the mound for Northern Illinois to face Northwestern's Jake Goebbert and Goebbert won the confrontation as he blasted a walk-off two-run homerun to right field to win it 6-5 for the Wildcats (7-20).

"Their lead-off guy Tommy Finn did a good job of getting on base for them," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "Jake Goebbert is a good hitter. We knew that. You don't want to walk the go-ahead run, but you don't want him to get a hit either. Zelasko did a nice job to get to that point, unfortunately Reynolds fell behind in the count and he got a good pitch to hit. They had one lead all day, but it was the one that mattered."

Wildcat reliever David Jensen (1-2) earned the win after pitching a perfect ninth, while Reynolds (0-2) took the loss after facing just Goebbert, giving up an earned run on the homer.

The Huskies (11-18) tagged Northwestern starter Matt Diedrich for five earned runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings, while he recorded only one strikeout. NIU starter Tom Barry (Orland Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) posted his third straight start of allowing just one earned run as he lasted four innings, surrendering five hits and a walk with a strikeout. He has now given up only three earned runs in his three starts this year, one in each, while tallying a 1.76 ERA, six walks and seven strikeouts in 15.1 innings.

"Tom wasn't exceptionally sharp today, but he went out there and battled," Mathey said. "The one error we had cost us some runs, but he battled on the road and that's a good sign for a pitcher."

Finn led the Wildcat offense with three hits and a run scored, while Goebbert had two hits and two RBI on the walk-off homer. Chris Lashmet added a solo homer and scored two runs. Chad Noble and Quentin Williams each had a pair of hits as well.

Brett Frantini (Minooka, Ill./Minooka) led the Huskie offense with a career high two RBI and two hits in three at-bats. Joe Buonavolanto (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale South) also totaled two hits and scored a run. Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) had a solo homer which was good for an RBI and a run. Matt Behren (Elmwood Park, Ill./Holy Cross) had a hit and a run scored, while Nick Badgley (McHenry, Ill./McHenry C.C.) had an RBI single. Justin Behm (Downers Grove, Ill./North) scored two runs and added a hit with a walk.

"It was nice to see a good performance from Brett," said Mathey. "He has been doing a nice job and working hard. We had a chance to give him a start today and he did a good job. He called a good game, got some hits, played good defense and threw out a runner. That's good to see out of a freshman.

"Joe had a nice day, too. When he stays on top of the ball, he's a good hitter. It was good to see him do that. He had a pretty active day on the infield and had a good play to close the sixth inning."

The Huskies led the entire game before the Wildcats won it in the ninth. NIU started quickly with a two-out solo homerun to left-center field by Hood in the first inning. The Huskies then scored again in the second on a two-run single to right-center by Frantini.

In the fourth, NIU went up 4-1 after Behm doubled with one-out and came around to score on a wild pitch. However, Northwestern countered with two runs as Tony Vercelli double to right to drive in a run and Williams had a two-out RBI infield single to shortstop.

The teams then exchanged runs again in the sixth, each getting one apiece. Badgley roped a two-out RBI single up the middle for NIU and Kenneth Avila delivered a one-out RBI double to right-center for the Wildcats that scored Noble and should have scored another, but shortstop Alex Jones threw out Vercelli as he tried to advance to third on Noble's infield single that kicked away from Jones on the previous play NIU then got out of the inning after Buonavolanto ranged to his left to make a nice stop and throw from his knees to get pinch-hitter Paul Sneider and prevent the tying run from scoring.

The Huskies return to the field this weekend in Akron, Ohio at Lee R. Jackson Field as NIU takes on Akron (6-23, 3-6 MAC) in a three-game series that starts on Friday at 2 p.m. CT. The final two contests of the series are at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

-NIU-

Huskie Notes

- The Huskies scored in the first inning for the 12th time this year.

- Hood has a five-game hitting streak in which he has seven hits, seven runs, five RBI and three homers.

- Frantini threw out his first collegiate base stealer in the second inning.

- NIU is now 49-24 against Illinois opponents since Mathey took over in 2003, and is 3-3 this year.

- The Huskies are now 7-5 against Big Ten opponents under Mathey.

- NIU has had a player get multiple hits in 26 of their 29 games, led by Hood's 13.