NIU Baseball Returns to Play Four at Coca Classic

GO HUSKIES McCulloch was 3-for-9 last week for NIU with two big RBI
McCulloch was 3-for-9 last week for NIU with two big RBI

Feb. 29, 2012

Week 3 notes
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DeKALB, Ill. - After battling against two nationally-ranked foes last weekend, then-No. 18 St. John’s and No. 24 Texas Tech, Northern Illinois will head to the Coca Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz March 1-4. the Huskies will face Winthrop, No. 11 Arizona State, St. Mary’s (Calif.) and No. 24 Oregon State.

- Against nationally-ranked opponents this season, NIU has outscored its opponents 10-2 in the final three innings of contests.

- Northern Illinois has also tied its nationally ranked foes in the ninth inning.

- The Huskies are making their second-consecutive trip to Surprise, Ariz.

Fans can follow the Arizona State and Oregon State games on Gametracker on, or can listen to radio broadcasts on each school’s respective website by subscription only. The game against Winthrop will have a FREE radio broadcast at No media will be available for the St. Mary’s game.

Northern Illinois traveled to Lubbock, Texas for a contest against St. John’s and three versus host Texas Tech. NIU was without the service of seven of its players as members of the team came down with a virus. However, that did not hinder the Huskies as they sent their game with the No. 18 Red Storm to extra innings but lost 11-9 on a walkoff homerun in the bottom of the 10th.Texas Tech defeated the Huskies Saturday night after the St. John’s game, 8-5, and again on Sunday, 10-4.

However, NIU was not leaving town without a fight against newly ranked TTU. The Red Raiders scored one run in the third inning and another in the eighth to go ahead, 2-0. In the top of the ninth inning,  with no hits to their credit, NIU mustered two runs on three hits, including a game-tying RBI double by Troy White. But Texas Tech surged back with a single and walkoff triple by Tim Proudfoot to defeat NIU, 3-2.

Northern Illinois is currently 0-7 to start the season, with two of its losses against nationally-ranked teams. In the season-opening series at Tennessee, the Volunteers were receiving votes in most of the nation’s polls. Texas Tech was receiving votes in the first two contests with the Huskies, but cracked the top-25 for the first time since 2005 with their then-7-1 record Monday morning.

Sophomore Alex Klonowski and senior Tony Manville were both named to the Brooks Wallace Memorial Classic All-Tournament Team for their performance over the weekend. St. John’s had two selections on the team, while host school Texas Tech earned 10 honors.

Klonowski, a native of Kearney, Mo., was the second basemen of the tournament, batting 5-for-19 (.263) with 4 RBI and two runs scored in four starts. Defensively, Klonowski did not commit an error while playing at shortstop, second base, right field or on the mound. Manville pitched seven innings on the mound against No. 24 Texas Tech, surrendering five hits, two walks and one earned run. He also struck out one batter in his 27 batters faced.

Below are the series records for all of the Huskies opponents at the Coca Cola Classic. Northern Illinois is 1-13 combined against this year’s field.

Arizona State                  Oregon State    
NIU trails ASU, 0-8            NIU trails OSU, 0-2
2/3/06    L 5-3    2/19/10    L 8-0      2/26/09    L 23-7
2/4/06    L 9-6    2/20/10    L 10-5    3/1/09    L 2 – 1     
2/5/06    L 8-3    2/20/10    L 26-1
2/27/09  L 6-1    3/4/11      L 10-9

Saint Mary’s (Calif.)        Winthrop
NIU trails SMC, 0-2            Series tied, 1-1
2/26/09    L 23-7               3/1/02    L 13-12
3/1/09      L 2 – 1              3/16/03    W 11-10

The NIU coaches will tell you that senior Troy White is a classy guy and apparently they aren’t the only ones. The selection committee for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, an honor annually given to the Division I senior baseball player who excels on and off the field, selected White as 1-of-30 candidates for the prestigious award. See back of notes for more information.

Junior Jamison Wells 19-game hitting streak came to end Sunday against Texas Tech as he was 0-3 on the day. It was the third-longest streak in school history, trailing Dave Reynolds (2007-10) 20-game streak in 2009 and Mike Birsa’s (1992-94) 27 game streak in 1992-93.

Freshman Micah McCulloch (Rochelle, Ill.) made his first appearance last Saturday against No. 18 St. John’s in the top of the seventh inning for designated hitter Joe Battaglia. After walking in his first at-bat, the Rochelle Township graduate had an RBI single in the eighth inning and followed in the ninth with an RBI double that tied the Huskies with the Red Storm and sent the game to extra innings.

In two starts, McCulloch finished the weekend 3-for-9 (.333) with three runs scored and two RBI. He currently leads the Huskies in slugging (.444) and on-base (.400) percentages.

In their trip to Lubbock, seven of the Huskies came down with a virus and were forced to sit in games one and two Saturday afternoon. However, some players went on to shine over the weekend. See for yourself.

P Tony Manville - 7 IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 1 SO - Feb. 27 vs. No. 24 Texas Tech
3B Troy White - 2-for-8, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI - game tying double in 9th Monday night

Senior Brett Frantini has thrown out four runners attempting to steal bases in his six starts behind home plate in 2012. He threw out one runner in the third inning against No. 24 Texas Tech Feb. 27 and accounted for two against the Red Raiders Feb. 26. He also threw out one runner in the season-opener at Tennessee (Feb. 17).

Despite slow starts against ranked teams, Northern Illinois has outscored its opponents 10-2 in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings of ball games. The Huskies rallied back from a 9-1 deficit against No. 18 St. John’s to tie the game, 9-9, in the top of the ninth to send the contest to extra innings. Against Texas Tech on Monday, NIU broke up a no-hitter with two runs in the ninth, before falling in the bottom half of the inning on a walkoff triple, 3-2.

In both of his starts on the mound for Northern Illinois, senior Tony Manville has been a grind-it-out to get-it-done kind of pitcher, keeping NIU within winning’s distance. Against Tennessee he pitched five innings and surrendered nine hits, four runs, but only walked two. Monday versus Texas Tech, he pitched seven innings and only allowed one run on five hits and two walks and accounted for a strikeout in both games. In 2011, the Huskies outscored their opponents 148-136 with the New Lenox, Ill. native on the mound.

Normally, stealing from another would be frowned upon. But in baseball, its ok. Junior Jamison Wells currently has four stolen bases this season and racked up 27 for the Huskies last season, tying for the third most in a single season in program history. In his career Wells has accrued 43 stolen bases, good enough for fifth all-time, in 101 career appearances. Alvin Maynard (1979-80) holds the NIU career record (71) and single-season record (41).

A major contributor to the Huskies big comeback against St. John’s, was the fact that the Red Storm committed five errors in the contest. So far in 2012, opponents have accrued 13 errors to the Huskies 12 in seven games.

Winthrop is 0-8 in 2012 and has faced two-ranked opponents in then-No. 9 Georgia Tech and then-No. 9 Georgia. In competition, WU has been outscored, 59-16, by its opponents. The Eagles are familiar with the MAC in 2012, having hosted Kent State in its season-opening tournament and dropping the contest, 11-3.

Pitcher Preston Johnson has  been the top-starter for the Eagles with two games under his belt and 9.1 innings pitched. He also boasts a 3.86 ERA and an 0-1 record. In relief Michael Gilroy has made five appearances and has not allowed a run this season and only one hit (.056 opp. BA). Patrick Gamblin is tied for the team-lead in hits (six) and has one double, one homerun and four RBI.

The 5-1 Sun Devils have had success this season, as evident by their No. 11 national ranking. Arizona State’s only loss this season was against UC Riverside on Feb. 25, 3-1, the only time the team was held under 10 runs in 2012. Also familiar with the MAC this season, ASU opened 2012 with a three-game series with Western Michigan and outscored the Broncos, 40-2.

First basemen Abe Ruiz has been on a season-opening terror, batting .500 (11-for-22) with three doubles and homeruns, along with 11 RBI at the five spot in the lineup. Brady Rodgers has yet to surrender a run in his two starts, both wins, in 13 innings pitched and has struckout 17 batters and allowed zero walks.

St. Mary’s is 5-3, opening its season on a five-game winning streak and currently riding a three-game losing skid. The Gaels recently opened their conference season, playing a three-game series with fellow WCC foe BYU, taking the first game of the series and losing the next two. SMC closed February with a game against San Jose State Tuesday afternoon and fell, 5-3.

Martin Agosta is 1-0 in his two starts this season and has combined for 15 innings in that span with 14 strikeouts, three walks and an ERA of 0.60. At the plate, Troy Channing is 11-for-30 this year (.367) with four doubles and six RBI. Ricky Boas and Cole Norton also have identical 10-for-32 (.313) batting statistics.

Like their West Coast counterpart St. Mary’s, Oregon State is 5-3 in 2012, and finished its last weekend in San Diego, 2-2. The 24th ranked Beavers defeated Pacific and Kansas State in the San Diego/San Diego State Tournament and suffered losses to the host schools.

Danny Hayes has been the power man in the Beavs lineup, slugging .583 with six hits, two doubles, a triple, a homerun and 14 RBI. OSU’s starting pitching staff is made up of grinders, surrendering 97 hits as a pitching staff, but few walks (34).

In 2011 senior pitcher Tony Manville opened with a 0-1 record, losing Feb. 26 to BYU (8-5), and went on to register nine-straight wins to tie the NIU record for victories in a season. His swinning-treak was snapped Feb. 18 at Tennessee in the Huskies 7-2 loss to Tennessee in game two of the doubleheader. It was the sixth-longest streak in NCAA Division I entering 2012.

On Jan. 31 senior pitcher Kyle Glancy was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List, joining the nation’s top-45 closers on the list. The Oak Park, Ill. native recorded 12 saves and was 1-0 in 2011. Last season he was named to NCBWA midseason watch list.

LEFT SIDE - THE STRONG SIDE released its Mid-American Conference preview Feb. 8 and Northern Illinois received some high accolades, as polled by all 12 MAC coaches. Senior infielders Alex Jones and Troy White split the honors of “Best Defensive Infielder” and “Best Infield Arm.” Jones was first team all-region and All-MAC at shortstop while White was second team All-MAC at third base in 2011.

Sophomore Jeff Zimmerman first basemen also received honor from being named amongst the top-three “Best Pure Hitters” and “Best Power Hitters” in the Mid-American Conference. Zimmerman was the MAC’s Freshman of the Year in 2011 after batting .326 with 11 homeruns, 13 doubles and 47 RBI.

The Huskies had a slow start to 2011, going 0-10 in its first 10 games in trips to Southern Utah, Texas Tech and Arizona State. However, Northern Illinois would persevere and finish the season 30-27 overall and 16-11 in the MAC, nearly claiming the West division championship in the process. It was the fourth 30-win season in school history, all occurring under skipper Ed Mathey.

Northern Illinois carried a .966 fielding percentage in 2011, the highest-percentage since atleast 1959, the year the program began keeping the stat. The Huskies also committed a Mathey-era (2003-present) low of 74 errors. Associate Head Coach Steve Joslyn oversees the NIU defense.

The pitching staff of Northern Illinois was a strong suit in 2011 as the Huskies recorded five shutouts during the season, the most-under Ed Mathey and the most since 1996. The centerpiece of the shutouts came April 10 when Jeremy Gonzales only allowed three hits and no walks in 2-0 win over Miami (Ohio).

OK, Bo Jackson has no affiliation what so ever to Northern Illinois baseball, but, junior centerfielder Jamison Wells, like Jackson was for Auburn, is a multi-sport for NIU. Wells, a native of Combined Locks, Wis., doubles (no pun intended by the 16 he amassed last season) as a wide reciever for the Huskies football team. He made 14 receptions for 112 yards and appeared in 13 games for the Mid-American Conference and Bowl Champions.

Senior Alex Jones had a whale of junior season in 2011, leading Northern Illinois in batting average (.352), hits (82), total bases (118) and RBI (47). For his great season, Jones was named a quarterfinalist for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award on May 11. Northern Illinois and the Kansas City, Kan. native are again hoping he recieves the honor for a second-straight season.

Henry Ford once said “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Northern Illinois accounted for 40 sacrifice bunts last season, the fourth-most in program history, and 21 sacrifice flies during the 2011 season.

Northern Illinois will follow the Coca Cola Classic with a trip Clarkesville, Tenn., for games against Austin Peay, Arkansas State and Dayton.



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