May 10, 2013
DeKALB, Ill. – Northern Illinois baseball (21-26, 15-7 MAC) clinched a Mid-American Conference Tournament berth Friday afternoon in its series opener versus Eastern Michigan (22-26, 9-13 MAC) as the Huskies defeated the Eagles, 2-1. Junior Eli Anderson (Glenview/New Trier) pitched eight innings, striking out seven and walking one to earn his ninth win of the season, tying the NIU record for wins in a season. He is 8-0 in the MAC with a 0.91 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 11 balls.
“Eastern Michigan is a good team and Coach Alexander has done a good job with them. They’ll come out and battle you. Eli did a very good job, especially in the third, limiting a big inning and giving us a shot to stay within striking distance. It took awhile to get the offense going but both pitchers are very good and that’s what you expect on Friday’s in the MAC.
“The runs that we did get were started with two outs and no one on base. The way Eli was pitching and the way we played defense today, we played solid around the horn and runs were at a premium so it was a good win.”
The Huskies had the first chance to strike first blood in the game as it loaded the bases in the first inning of the game with two outs in the game as Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) and Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park/Andrew) singled to third base. Micah McCulloch earned a full count walk to juice the bases but a called strike three on a full count to Nate Ruzich (Joliet/South Suburban College) ended the frame.
Anderson recorded the first five outs of the game from the mound, striking out five, including two looking. Eastern Michigan turned the heat up in the third however as it scored the first run of the game on a single through the left side and a runner on second.
The Eagles lead would not last long as the Huskies got things going in the bottom of the fifth with two men down and zero on base. Tommy Hook
(Lockport/Lockport Township) singled through the right side and went to third base on a tweener fly ball between the left fielder and the third baseman to push Hook to third. Zimmerman followed on a 1-0 pitch, driving it over the sprinting and diving centerfielder to the warning track to score two runs on a double, putting the Huskies ahead, 2-1.
The Huskies held the lead with Anderson on the mound as he finished with eight innings pitched, scattering seven hits and allowing only one earned run with seven strikeouts and a walk. It was his eighth-straight win of the season and the eighth-consecutive game he’s pitched eight-or-more innings.
Kevin Sweeney (Chicago/Fenwick) and Anthony Andres (Western Springs/St. Rita) combined to finish the ninth with Andres recording the last out to earn his third save of the season.
Northern Illinois will continue its series with Eastern Michigan tomorrow at Ralph McKinzie Field. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.
With five games remaining this conference season, NIU leads Ball State in the MAC West division by three games … Northern Illinois is seeking its first ever division championship in program history … Jeff Zimmerman finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBI and a double to lead the Huskies … Anderson is undefeated in the Mid-American Conference (8-0) and is 9-3 overall this year, tying the program record for wins in a season … Anderson shares the mark with Paul Erschen (1996), Tony Manville (2011), Joe Piekarz (2004) and Jesse Richardson (1995) … Anderson is 0.2 innings short of 100 innings pitched, a mark passed only twice in program history … As a team, the Huskies outhit the Eagles, 8-7 … Northern Illinois did not make an error in the game and are 8-7 playing flawless defense this season.