For the seventh year in a row, the Huskies will get an opportunity to face intrastate rival, and a Mid-American Conference caliber team, Southern Illinois as they prepare for the start of MAC competition next weekend at Bowling Green. The series will allow NIU to get a feel for where it stands before MAC play after facing national perennial powers on the Huskies’ nine-game, 10-day spring break road trip to California.
Both teams head into the three-game weekend series looking to rebound from losses in their previous games. The Huskies fell to UC Santa Barbara, 13-4, in last weekend’s series finale. The Salukis dropped an 8-3 decision to Murray State yesterday.
The AccuWeather.com forecast for the series calls for a high temperature of 66 degrees Fahrenheit and mostly sunny on Friday. Saturday calls for a high of 62 and cloudy with showers in the afternoon. Sunday is supposed to be cloudy with a high of 49.
The All-Time Series
Southern Illinois leads the all-time series, 24-12, but the Huskies have won each of the previous two series, taking the first two games of each. In the current six-year stretch between the two teams, NIU owns an 11-8 advantage over SIU.
Last Match-Up Against SIU
NIU came up short in its attempt to sweep Southern Illinois (4-9) as the Salukis powered by the Huskies (4-7) with a decisive seven-run fourth inning to win 9-7 on Sunday, March 8th, 2009 at Abe Martin Field.
SIU started the fourth inning with a one out solo homerun by Chris Serritella. Then Jordan Sivertsen singled, Tony Lepore walked and Tyler Bullock doubled to score both runners. Aaron Roberts followed by reaching on an error by junior first baseman Dave Reynolds and Chris Murphy doubled to score Bullock. On the next play, Scott Elmendorf grounded out to second to score Roberts. Freshman Kyle Glancy then replaced freshman starter Chris Wakefield and walked Michael Stalter to set up Mark Kelly, who doubled to score Murphy and Stalter.
NIU responded with a three-run fifth to narrow the lead to one run, 7-6. With one out, freshman Troy White doubled down the right field line and senior Nick Badgley reached on an infield single to third. Senior Pat Minogue followed with a double to left, scoring White. Then with two outs, junior Jordin Hood delivered a single to center to score Badgley and Minogue. With junior Joe Buonavolanto batting, Hood stole second to bring the tying run into scoring position, but Buonavolanto went down on strikes to end the inning.
SIU added another run in the bottom of the fifth on NIU’s third error of the day. After Roberts reached on a fielder’s choice bunt, he stole second with two outs to set up Elmendorf, who singled on a grounder to third, allowing Roberts to score after White’s errant throw.
NIU cut the deficit back to one in the sixth with a one out RBI double by senior Matt Behren that scored Reynolds, who singled to lead off the inning. The Huskies then had three chances to tie the game, but could not do so, coming closest on a single to center by White that only advanced Behren to third. After White was picked off while trying to steal second, Badgley walked before Minogue flew out to center.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Salukis answered with another run to take a 9-7 lead. With one out and the bases loaded, Bullock drove in a run with a grounder to short that resulted in a force out at third. Huskie sophomore reliever Tom Zelasko then got Murphy to fly out to center to end the threat.
In the Huskies’ best chance to possibly tie or take the lead, Behren flew out to center with the bases loaded and two outs.
SIU reliever Daniel Etienne (2-0) entered the game in the third inning and earned the win despite giving up three earned runs on five hits. George Bryant got the save by closing the ninth with a walk and a strikeout. Saluki starter Jimmy Cornell lasted 2.1 innings, surrendering three earned runs on a hit and five walks with four strikeouts. Wakefield (0-3) took the loss for the Huskies after allowing four earned runs on six hits and a walk in 3.2 innings.
Four Salukis tallied multiple hits, led by Kelly, who had three along with two RBI. Murphy, Sivertsen and Lepore all had two hits apiece with Murphy recording an RBI. Bullock led SIU with three RBI while Elmendorf also drove a run in.
White led the Huskies with a 3-for-5 performance and two RBI. Hood also had two RBI along with a hit and a steal. Reynolds had two hits and a run scored while Minogue added two hits with an RBI as well. Badgley and Behren each recorded a hit with a run scored and an RBI.
Before SIU’s big inning, the Huskies opened the game by taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning after capitalizing on three walks. Buonavolanto, senior Justin Behm and Behren all earned free passes to set up a two out RBI fielder’s choice grounder to third by White that the Salukis were unable to convert an out on.
NIU increased its lead to 3-0 in the third by another RBI single from White and an RBI fielder’s choice grounder to short by Badgley. Behm scored the first run by reaching on a fielder’s choice grounder to short and advancing to second on a passed ball. Behren scored the second run after walking and advancing to third on White’s single.
Meet The Salukis
The Salukis finished fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 24-28 record, 12-10 league mark in 2009, and are off to a 5-11 start in 2010. After winning three of four games earlier this month, SIU has dropped four in a row.
SIU possesses a .294 team batting average, 108 runs, a .414 slugging percentage and a .366 on-base percentage. The Saluki hurlers own a 9.58 team ERA, allowing 181 runs on 239 hits and 90 walks with 110 strikeouts in 140 innings.
Nick Johnson paces the SIU offense with a .455 average, 13 runs, 11 RBI, a .659 slugging percentage, and a .510 on-base percentage.
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.
Dating back to the 2009 season, senior lefty Chuck Lukanen has a current streak of nine consecutive starts with four or more strikeouts on the mound.
White (12-for-32) leads the Huskies with an eight-game hitting streak, while sophomore Alex Jones (4-for-13) has knocked a hit in three straight.
Deain has not allowed a run over his last four appearances spanning three innings, giving up three hits, while tallying two strikeouts and no walks. Junior Jeremy Gonzales has gone three straight starts with allowing three runs or less. Over those 17 innings of work, he has recorded 16 strikeouts and a 2.12 ERA.
Let's Play More --- Same Time, Different Place
Exactly two years ago to the day, the Huskies’ 9-8 loss in 11 innings to Austin Peay on Feb. 28 this season marked the first 11-plus inning game since a 16-inning 9-6 loss to Portland in 2008.
Home, Sweet Home
With the trip to Bakersfield, Calif. over spring break from March 5-6, the Etcheverry brothers returned to their old stomping grounds. Joe was a four-year letterwinner for the Centennial High School baseball team in Bakersfield, while Ben was a two-year player before moving to Florida to finish his high school career at Lake Region High School in Winter Haven, Fla. As a senior, Joe earned Area Player of the Year and Southwest Yosemite League MVP, while Ben was named an all-state performer in his sophomore and final season at Centennial.
During the three-game NIU sweep over CSU Bakersfield, Joe Etcheverry recorded a hit in each game (4-for-9) with two runs and three RBI.
Gonzales also returned to his hometown, where he was a four-year letterwinner at South High School, and was named team captain and MVP in his senior season.
He started Game Two against CSU Bakersfield and had his best start of the year thus far, throwing seven innings of one-hit ball with seven strikeouts and two walks, and allowed no runs, to pick up his first win as a Huskie.
Additionally, California native Wes Shryock returned to his home state, as well, where he was a four-year letterwinner at Desert Christian High School in Lancaster, Calif., and was named first team all-conference and second team all-area in his final season.
He gathered his first hit of his NIU career in a pinch-hit at-bat against Cal Poly on March 9, and registered his first walk and stolen base as a Huskie against UC Santa Barbara on March 12.
Four Huskies notched their first hits in an NIU uniform in the season-opening Arizona State series. Cory Krupp got his in the season opener on Feb. 19, while the other three got theirs in the series finale on Feb. 21 as Ben Etcheverry, Tom Kotis and Brian Riegler each had a single. Jeremy Gonzales also made his first two appearances in a Huskie uniform on the mound on Feb. 19 and 20, 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.
In Krupp’s second game on Feb. 20, he notched his first run and walk, while he tallied his first RBI and steal on Feb. 27 against Austin Peay.
Brett Frantini blasted his first career home run on March 6 against CSU Bakersfield.
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 (189-215-1). He sits just six wins shy of 400 for his 16-year career (394-386-3) and 11 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.
Smitten With Smitty
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 (http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/10-m-basebl-blog.html).
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 called out his first person on mixing him and his brother up. The culprit turned out to be none other than sophomore Alex Beckman’s father, Pete.
Following the SIU series, NIU will play its first home game of the season at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24 at Ralph McKinzie Field before opening MAC play next weekend at Bowling Green.