April 15, 2009
DeKalb, Ill. - The Northern Illinois baseball team used a season-high 20 hits, six doubles, and nine walks to put up 16 runs and defeat Chicago State 16-2 on Wednesday evening at Ralph McKinzie Field to earn its fifth win in a row against the Cougars, improving to 7-1 at home in 2009.
NIU head football coach Jerry Kill threw out the ceremonial first pitch and the Huskies (13-21, 4-7 Mid-American Conference) quickly dropped a field goal on Chicago State (3-32) in to go up 3-0 in the first inning after NIU starter Zach Badgley (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) escaped a first-and-third jam by getting Patrick Hernandez to hit a double play ball to second baseman Alex Beckmann (Batavia, Ill./Batavia), who threw to shortstop Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper), who relayed the ball to first baseman Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg).
"It was good for our guys to turn that double play," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "I though we had a good twist on that. Zach fell behind hitters in that first inning and had a walk, but fortunately their four hitter reached out for an outside fastball and we were able to get the double play to end that inning. You don't want to let a team come in here and score runs in the first inning to give them confidence and momentum."
The Huskies wasted no time in the bottom of the frame as Jones led off with a single and moved to third after Beckmann executed a hit-and-run with a single to center. Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) then drove in Jones on a fielder's choice grounder to shortstop in which Beckmann was thrown out at third. Reynolds followed with a double down the right field line to put two runners in scoring position for Nick Morreale (Vernon Hills, Ill./Mesa AZ C.C.), and he came through with a towering two-run double off the centerfield wall.
"Jones started the first inning nicely and then Nick Morreale drove in two runs with a big drive a few plays later. That was huge for us," said Mathey.
The Cougars pulled within a run in the fourth after scoring two runs with two outs. Albert Carpen drew a walk with two down and then moved to third on a hit-and-run single to right by Kasey Lewandowski. A wild pitch by Badgley allowed Carpen to score and Lewandowski to move to second. Jeremy Perez then singled home the second run before Jonathan Carpen fouled out to first to end the inning.
Chicago State threatened again in the fifth with a two-out, first-and-third situation, but NIU catcher Brett Frantini (Minooka, Ill./Minooka) picked off Hernandez at first base to allow the Huskies to escape unharmed.
NIU responded to take the momentum for the rest of the game by finishing with 13 unanswered runs, scoring in each of the last four innings, including a pair of five-run frames coming in the fifth and eighth.
Hood started the fifth by reaching on an error by CSU third baseman Perez and Reynolds followed with a walk. Justin Behm (Downers Grove, Ill./North) moved both runners with a sacrifice bunt that he nearly beat out and then Morreale was intentionally walked to load the bases. Nick Badgley (McHenry, Ill./McHenry C.C.) and Frantini came through with back-to-back RBI singles, and then Pat Minogue (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) walked home a run. Jones delivered the final blow of the inning with a two-run single up the middle to put NIU ahead 8-2.
Freshman Zach Badgley (1-0) earned his first collegiate win in his first start by throwing five innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits and four walks with three strikeouts, while CSU starter James Tucker (1-9) was tagged with the loss after allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits and five walks with two strikeouts in 4.1 innings.
"I thought Zach threw the ball well," Mathey said. "He needs to work on his command a bit, but it was an extended outing for him and his first start so he could have been nervous. We are happy with his effort and happy with the win."
The NIU bullpen then closed out the game effectively, surrendering one hit and two walks along with recording five strikeouts in the final four innings. Senior Brandon Copp (Aurora, Ill./West) was the first to come out of the bullpen and made his first appearance since February 26 against Oregon State as he has recovered from an injury. He struck out his first batter and gave up a hit, but then got a 6-4-3 double play to end his day of work.
"We made some good defensive plays when we had to and our bullpen was solid today," said Mathey. "They did a nice job.
"The important thing for Brandon was that he came out and threw pretty well. It seemed effortless and he was pain free. He's thrown some side bullpen sessions, but a game is a lot different with the adrenaline flowing. We will see how he feels tomorrow, but if he can get back into the fold for our team, that's a big thing for us. He's a good pitcher that has been through the grind and has done good things for us in the past."
The Huskie offense was led by Jones, who tallied season-highs with four hits and three RBI along with scoring two runs and drawing a walk. Morreale drove in a season-best four runs as he also scored a run and drew two walks. Nick Badgley totaled a career-high three hits, scored a run and drove in two. Reynolds added two hits, two runs and a walk, while Joe Etcheverry (Bakersfield, Calif./Centennial) did the same and had an RBI on his first homerun of the season in the seventh to right-centerfield. Troy White also (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) registered a hit, a run and a pair of runs driven in.
"Our hitters were up for the occasion," Mathey said. "They were hitting the ball around the field all day so that was good to see."
The Huskies wrap their five-game homestand with a three-game Mid-American Conference series against Toledo (14-17, 7-5 MAC) this weekend with games on Friday at 3:05 p.m. CT, Saturday at 1:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
- NIU is 82-43-1 at home under Mathey and 24-8 against intrastate opponents.
- The Huskies are 51-24 against Illinois opponents overall since 2003 and 5-2 this year.
- NIU scored at least one run in the first inning for the fifth time in their last six games, third in a row, and for the 16 time overall.
- Hood has a 10-game hitting streak, marking his second 10-game or more streak of the season as he also had an 18 game streak earlier this season.
- The Huskies recorded 10 or more hits for the 19th time in 2009 and for the fifth game in a row.
- NIU scored 10 or more runs for the eighth time this season and for the fourth time in its last five games.
- The Huskies have totaled four five-run innings in last two games, doing so twice in each game.
- NIU has had a player get multiple hits in all but three games this year, led by Reynolds and Hood, who each have 15.