Huskies Hot Start Not Enough at MAC Leader Kent State

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May 2, 2014

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KENT, Ohio - The NIU Huskies (14-31-1, 8-11 MAC) had the Kent State Golden Flashes (29-16, 13-6 MAC) on the ropes in the series opener at Schoonover Stadium, leading 3-1 at the seventh inning stretch. However, the Mid-American Conference leaders broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the ninth to take game one, 4-3.

Pitcher Anthony Andres (Western Springs, Illinois/St. Rita) finished with 6.2 innings of work for NIU, striking out three with a walk while scattering seven hits. He only allowed two runners to reach second base prior to the seventh as he picked off two batters in the game.

Six different Huskies collected hits with four of those coming from the top-five spots in the batting order. Seniors Joe Battaglia (Westchester, Illinois/St. Joseph) and Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wisconsin/Madison Area TC) each drove in an RBI with two outs on them during the game.

“To me, today was a tale of two ball games. In the first six innings, we were playing a good brand of baseball - we were pitching hit, we were hitting it, we were playing defense and we were playing to win the game,” said Head Coach Ed Mathey. “Something clicked in the seventh and the game sped up for a us a bit in those last three innings.

“This loss was on us tonight and I don’t want to take anything away from Kent State but they didn’t press us any harder in the last three innings than they had in the previous six innings,” added Mathey. “We didn’t react well and that’s the disappointing thing. Anytime you lose in the bottom of the ninth, it’s a disappointing thing.”

NIU came into the night swinging against Kent State ace Eric Lauer, a 17th round draft selection last year out of high school, as it put runners in scoring position in the first three innings of the game. Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Illinois/DeKalb) started it off as he doubled in the top of the first with two outs. Though the Huskies would not score in the frame, it would go on to score a run in the second and third to take a 2-0 lead.

In the second, Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Missouri/Kearney) led the frame with a walk on four-straight pitches. With two outs passing by and Klonowski stuck on first, Battaglia hit the Huskies second double of the game as he roped a ball down the left field line to score Klonowski from first and put NIU on top after he beat the throw, 1-0.

Northern Illinois would take a 2-0 lead in the next frame as Sisler walked with two outs. The shortstop advanced to second after a balk by Lauer to set up Tenhagen, who singled through the left side to score Sisler with ease, despite a throw home.

The Golden Flashes cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fifth inning as Jeff Revesz led the inning with a double. After getting to third on a groundout, Revesz would score on a sacrifice fly, however, it appeared that Alex Smith (Mahomet, Illinois/Parkland College) threw at Revesz on the play at home but it was ruled that Battaglia’s tag was late.

The Huskies found redemption in the top of the seventh as it scored another run to give NIU a 3-1 lead. Jason Gasser (Dyer, Indiana/Mt. Carmel) reached base via error, however, he was thrown out on a failed sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher by Battaglia. The Huskie catcher would redeem the bunt as he scored from second base on a bloop single by Justin Fletcher (Pekin, Illinois/Illinois Central).

KSU tied the game in the bottom of the seventh, 3-3, on two RBI singles off of Andres, including one by Jon Wilson with two men out that tied the game. Frankenreider stepped onto the mound and allowed one runner to to load the bases off an infield single, however, the freshman got of the jam to start a whole new ball game in the final two frames.

The Golden Flashes would walk off with the win in the bottom of the ninth as they loaded the bases and earned a free base on a hit by pitch to drive the winning run home.

Game two of the series between Northern Illinois and Kent State will begin at 5 p.m. Central tomorrow at Schoonover Stadium.


 

 

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