Both teams enter the series looking to rebound from losses in each of their last games as the Huskies and Governors will play a three-game series at APSU’s Raymond C. Hand Park. The series will begin with Friday evening’s contest that has a weather.com forecast high temperature of 44 degrees Fahrenheit, sunny conditions and a north-west wind of 10-15 MPH. Then, there will be games on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon to complete the series. Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 44F and mostly sunny. Sunday’s forecast includes a high of 44F and a partly cloudy sky.
The All-Time Series
The Huskies have come up on top in both meetings with APSU, dating back to 1995. The Huskies beat the Governors 5-2 in the last match-up in Evansville, Ind. on March 12, 2005. NIU also took down APSU 5-4 on March 11, 1995 in Jacksonville, Fla. in the teams’ first ever meeting.
Last Match-Up Against APSU
Then-freshman Brian Smith ran roughshod over a talented Austin Peay club, as the superb rookie scattered seven hits over 7.0 innings of work to guide the Northern Illinois baseball team to a 5-2 win in game two of the Evansville Aces Diamond Classic in Evansville, Ind.
The victory was NIU’s third consecutive and improved the team’s overall record to 3-5. Austin Peay fell to 7-5 with the loss. Junior reliever Mark Badgley earned his first save of the season by striking out one in two-thirds of an inning. Shawn Kelley took the loss for the Governors and fell to 2-2 on the year.
The reigning Mid-American Conference West Division Pitcher of the Week following a complete-game win over Southern Illinois on March 6, 2005. Smith simply stifled the Governors, holding them to just one unearned run in his seven innings of work. Smith also struck out a career high seven and walked just two as he improved his record to 2-1.
Northern Illinois actually played back-to-back games after earning an 8-5 win over Wright State in 11 innings earlier in the day. While the Huskies secured a game-one victory over the Raiders with three runs in the 11th, NIU wasted little time jumping on top of Austin Peay, scoring three runs in the first-two frames to jump ahead 3-0. Jeremy Busch led-off the contest with a walk and scored one batter later when Greg Larsen doubled to left-center. After Larsen advanced to third on a Scott Simon groundout, Mike Santoro hit a sacrifice fly to right field to put the Huskies up 2-0.
NIU capitalized on an Austin Peay error in the second to make it 3-0. A Brian Toner infield single started the rally and a Jeff Dunaway fly ball to left was dropped allowing Toner to score from first.
After the Governors scored that aforementioned unearned run in the fifth, the Huskies put the game away with two more runs in the eighth. Back-to-back pinch-hits by Kyle Pettengell (double) and Mike Kukla (single) got the inning started before Pettengell scored from third base on a passed ball. Another Toner singled later scored Kukla to hand NIU its second win of the day.
Meet The Governors
The Governors return all nine positional players from a 2009 team that finished with a 13-37 mark as an independent club. On offense, APSU is led by senior C/OF Trey Lucas, who has begun the 2010 season with a .438 average, six RBI, three runs and two doubles. In the bullpen, the Govs are led by freshman RHP Matt Marsh, who has a 1.29 ERA with a 1-1 record, nine strikeouts and three walks in two appearances that covered seven innings.
As a team, APSU has a .291 average, 37 runs, a .385 slugging percentage and a .391 on-base percentage, while the Govs pitching staff has a 7.41 ERA, allowing 31 earned runs on 46 hits with 34 strikeouts and 27 walks in 37.2 innings.
APSU’s last game was a 2-1 loss at Vanderbilt in 11 innings. Prior to that game, the Govs fell to Illinois State 15-8 on Feb. 21, took down Iowa 13-8 Feb. 20 and beat Illinois State 15-7 to start the season Feb. 19.
Ten Huskies have been selected by Mathey to formulate a “Leadership Council” this season with the purpose of having a weekly team discussion on various team building topics in order to help the program succeed. Every week each council member will read literature on a various team building topic and bring their thoughts to each week’s team meeting. The group is composed of five seniors, two juniors and three sophomores. The seniors are Andy Deain, Jordin Hood, Sam Kapacinskas, Dave Reynolds and Brian Smith. The juniors are Joe Etcheverry and Zach Oates. The sophomores are Alex Beckmann, Kyle Glancy and Troy White.
The Four Captains
The team captains of this year’s Huskie baseball squad are seniors Jordin Hood, Dave Reynolds and Brian Smith and junior Zach Oates.
A pair of Huskies have active streaks this season that are carrying over from the end of 2009. Chuck Lukanen has six consecutive outings with four or more strikeouts on the mound. Tom Zelasko has not allowed a run in his last three appearances.
Joe Buonavolanto has started the season by getting a hit in all three games against Baseball America No. 5 Arizona State. As the starting second baseman in all three contests, Buonavolanto is 3-for-8 (.375) with two runs.
Four Huskies notched their first hits in an NIU uniform in the Arizona State series. Cory Krupp got his in the season opener, while the other three got theirs in the series finale last Sunday as Ben Etcheverry, Tom Kotis and Brian Riegler each had a single.
Also, Jeremy Gonzales made his first two appearances in a Huskie uniform on the mound last weekend and he had a stellar debut after compiling a 3.18 ERA in 5.2 innings while allowing two earned runs on three hits and six walks with four strikeouts.
Senior Jordin Hood spent a significant amount of time last season scratching NIU’s records, and figures to do the same in 2010. In 2009, he was named to the All-MAC second team for the second time in his career, making him the sixth Huskie to be selected to an All-MAC team more than once. He set career-highs in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBI and steals, while he also finished the season ranked in the top ten in several categories of the NIU record book. His 76 hits rank in a tie for third on the single season all-time NIU list, while his junior campaign also ranks fifth in runs scored (57), eighth in RBI (46) and tied for 10th in homers (10).
Hood ranks fourth in program history in hits (204), tied for fourth in homeruns (23), tied for fifth in triples (7), sixth in RBI (118), seventh in at-bats (614), seventh in steals (37) and eighth in runs scored (127) and doubles (36).
Hood finished an outstanding 2009 with a .474 on-base percentage (sixth in MAC), 57 runs (tied for sixth in MAC), 76 hits (eighth in MAC), a .382 average (ninth in MAC), 14 steals (tied for ninth in MAC) and 125 total bases (10th in MAC). He also had 46 runs batted in, 15 doubles, two triples, 10 homeruns, 12 walks, a .628 slugging percentage, and was hit by 23 pitches (tied for third in nation). Additionally, he had 24 multiple-hit games and 13 multi-RBI contests, while he had a career-best hitting streak of 18 games from February 27 to March 27.
Being an exception athlete, freshman Jamison Wells will not only be playing baseball for Northern Illinois, he will also be playing football for head coach Jerry Kill in the 2010 campaign. Wells was a three-year letterwinner at Kimberly High School in Combined Locks, Wis., earning two-way Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFC) first team all-state, two-way WFCA all-region, and 2008 WFCA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He was also named to the Associated Press' 2008 Wisconsin all-state football team at both wide receiver and defensive back.
Boys of Summer
A trio of Huskies earned all-star nods during the summer of 2009 as they were competing in various summer leagues. Jordin Hood represented the Quincy Gems, Alex Jones represented the KC Bandits and Chuck Lukanen represented the Green Bay Bullfrogs.
Head coach Ed Mathey enters his eighth season at NIU as the program’s all-time wins leader (186-206-1). He sits just nine wins shy of 400 for his 16-year career (391-377-3) and 14 victories away from his 200th win at Northern Illinois. He also owns four of NIU’s five best single season win totals, including the top three spots (34 in 2003 | 34 in 2007 | 31 in 2004).
Additionally, throughout his career Mathey has coached 54 all-conference, 18 all-region and four All-American selections.
NIU has hosted at least one game in a professional ball park in each season since 2005. The Huskies have played and won four games at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva, Ill., home of the Oakland Athletics’ Low-A affiliate Kane County Cougars. In 2008, NIU hosted No. 29 Notre Dame at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Ill., home of the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. Despite losing 5-4, the Huskies and White Sox raised over $65,000 for the NIU February 14 Forward, Together Forward Scholarship Fund. Last season, NIU hosted Milwaukee at Road Ranger Stadium in Loves Park, Ill., home of the Northern League’s Rockford RiverHawks. Even though the Huskies lost 7-6, the game marked NIU’s first in the Rockford area and the first Division I baseball game at the stadium.
In 2010, the Huskies will return to Road Ranger Stadium to face Northwestern on Wednesday, April 14 at 6:05 p.m. After a one-year hiatus, NIU will also come back to Elfstrom Stadium to take on Illinois Chicago at 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20. Additionally, NIU will be hosted by Milwaukee at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, on Wednesday, May 12, as the Huskies and Panthers will start approximately 30 minutes after the Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves noon contest.
At least one Huskie has signed a Major League Baseball contract in each of head coach Ed Mathey’s seven years at NIU. Overall, 21 NIU players have signed pro contracts under Mathey, and seven have been selected in the MLB Amateur Draft.
NIU Staying Classy
The NIU baseball program has kept pace with the rest of NIU’s sports programs to help extend Huskie athletes’ streak of semesters with a combined cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better to nine. Through the fall of 2009, 12 players have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
Mathey’s 2010 signing class of 11 future Huskies is the largest of his seven-year tenure. The class, which is full of large, athletic frames of raw talent, is composed of eight players from the state of Illinois with one each from Arizona, Minnesota and Missouri. The group includes RHP Eli Anderson (Glenview, Ill./New Trier Township), LHP/OF Anthony Andres (Western Springs, Ill./St. Rita of Cascia), RHP/OF Bo Andrews (Roscoe, Ill./Harlem), C Joe Battaglia (Westchester, Ill./St. Joseph), IF Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic), IF Tom Keating (Chicago, Ill./St. Laurence), RHP/IF Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney), RHP/OF Trey Lange (Mesa, Ariz./Skyline), OF Jordan Rishavy (Rochester, Minn./John Marshall/North Iowa Area C.C.), RHP/IF Kevin Sweeney (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) and IF Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park, Ill./Victor J. Andrew).
It’s All In The Family
Sophomore Zach Badgley is the fourth member of his family to take the mound for Northern Illinois, following Dan (1997-2001), Mark (2003-07) and Nick (2008-09). Since 1997, there has only been one season (2002) of NIU baseball without a Badgley family member.
Keeping Up With The Smiths
Sixth-year senior pitcher and Student Athlete Advisory Committee President Brian Smith is the younger brother of second-year assistant coach Jason Smith, who handles hitting and first base coaching duties for NIU. You can follow the Huskies all season long through Brian’s blog --- Can O’ Corn: Bloggin’ NIU Baseball With Pitcher Brian Smith.
As Brian mentions in his first entry, being brothers, he and Jason look pretty similar. The two have been mistaken for each other many, many times and he has issued a challenge for everyone to not get the two mixed up anymore. The two talk about this issue often and he will call you out in his blog if you do mess up.
This week’s Can O’ Corn highlight: Smith congratulated Brian Riegler, Tom Kotis, Ben Etcheverry and Cory Krupp for getting their first career hits as NIU Huskies and also congratulated Jeremy Gonzales on his first performances on the mound as a Huskie. Smith also was very impressed with Arizona State, but apparently Smith thinks Jordin Hood’s new slicked-back hair style is even more impressive.
NIU will come back to DeKalb for some days of practice before heading to California for its spring break trip. The Huskies will play nine games in 10 days, starting with a three-game series against Cal State Bakersfield that begins on Fri., Mar. 5th at 12 p.m. NIU will also face Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara on the trip.