May 12, 2010
MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Just like another team with a shade of red before them did, the Northern Illinois Huskies defeated a Milwaukee baseball team under a closed roof at Miller Park Wednesday. With the help of back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning and a strong effort on the mound by Jake Hermsen, NIU took down the Milwaukee Panthers 5-3 at Miller Park, home of Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers.
After watching the Atlanta Braves take a 9-2 noon contest over the Brewers, the Huskies (20-28) and Panthers (23-21) took the field 45 minutes later. In its third game in a professional stadium this season, NIU improved to 2-1 in pro parks with its first win in as many tries at Miller Park and second in as many attempts against the Panthers this season.
"It was a good day for our kids and program," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "With finals being over, we got them up here earlier to watch an MLB game. We got to go down to the batting cages under the stands, which you don't really ever get to do. It was the first time I, and probably most of the kids, have gotten to play indoors. It was an experience I'll always remember. We appreciate the Brewers and Panthers for giving us this opportunity.
"Hopefully it gets us on a winning streak for the weekend, which is what we need to do."
Down 2-0 following a two-run second inning by the Panthers, the Huskies plated a run in each of the next two frames. In the third after a Brett Frantini walk, Marvin Sanchez moved him over with a sacrifice bunt and Jamison Wells' grounder to short stop Cole Kraft moved him to third, as Kraft booted it to allow Wells to reach. Joe Buonavolanto then scored Frantini on a sacrifice fly to center. In the fourth, Sanchez delivered a two-out single through the right side to score Hood, who reached on a single, moved to second after Joe Etcheverry was hit by a pitch and third on an Alex Beckmann walk.
NIU then broke the tie with consecutive home runs of opposite types in the fifth. Alex Jones hit the first on a smash to left-center that one-hopped the wall and bounced left instead of right off the tricky Miller Park indentation, causing the two Panthers outfielders to chase the ball. Jones was then able to motor around the bags and beat a close relay play at home for an inside-the-park home run, his first homer of the season. Hood then followed by blasting an offering over the left field wall to give the Huskies a 4-2 lead.
"We scored a run in each of the innings prior, but Alex Jones made that happen in the batter's box from the moment he hit that ball," said Mathey. "It was a close play. If he had let up anywhere along the way, he'd have been out. It was great hustle. I think their dugout might have been down a bit after watching that and Jordin Hood just jumped all over a pitch left over the plate.
"Scoring five runs on seven hits means we did some little things well, too, which really helped us to a victory."
Milwaukee trimmed the deficit with a Jonathan Capasso leadoff long-ball in the fifth, but it was the last run the Panthers would score. New London, Wis. native Hersmen retired the last six hitters he faced to grab with his second win (2-1), giving up three runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in six frames. Zach Oates and Andy Deain combined to log the last three scoreless innings, giving up just a hit apiece. Oates worked the seventh and eighth, while Deain tallied a strikeout in the ninth to help claim his 11th save of the season.
"Jake was pretty solid today," Mathey said. "He threw a pretty good percentage of strikes. Milwaukee is a solid hitting team and to hold them to five hits and two walks is a good job. He put up zeroes after they scored early and kept momentum on our side to allow us to score more. It was a good performance from Jake today.
"Andy and Zach both did great jobs. They threw strikes and relied on the defense, which is what you need to do. It was good to see them close it down."
Panthers reliever Lucas Annen (1-2) took the loss after giving up his only two hits, the two homers, in his lone frame on the mound.
Hood led the offense by going 2-for-3 with three runs scored and his 10th home run of the season.
NIU completes its five-game road trip at Ball State this weekend. Games are set for 2 p.m. CST Friday, 12 p.m. Saturday, and 12 p.m. Sunday.