March 26, 2009
Friday: LHP Chuck Lukanen (2-3, 3.41, 29 IP, 14 BB, 17 SO) vs. RHP Brennan Smith (3-2, 2.83, 28.2 IP, 8 BB, 28 SO)
Saturday: RHP Nick Badgley (2-1, 4.37, 22.2 IP, 10 BB, 10 SO) vs. LHP Matt Malewitz (1-1, 3.90, 27.2 IP, 11 BB, 15 SO)
Sunday: LHP Dave Reynolds (0-1, 6.27, 18.2 IP, 5 BB, 13 SO) vs. LHP Brian Hangbers (0-1, 3.24, 8.1 IP, 2 BB, 5 SO)
DeKalb, Ill. - The Northern Illinois baseball team will look to continue its success at home this weekend as the Huskies (9-13, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) take on Bowling Green (9-11, 1-2 MAC) in a three game series that starts on Friday at 3:05 p.m. CT. The teams then play at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Since head coach Ed Mathey took over in 2003, NIU is 49-34 in MAC games at Ralph McKinzie Field.
"You always like to be the home team with the last at-bat," Mathey said. "Bowling Green tied for a division title last year and it will obviously be a challenge this weekend because they return a lot of players. It will be important for us to establish offense early and hopefully continue to swing the bats well. They have a pretty good feel for us and we have a pretty good fell for them so the team that executes their game plan will come out on top."
The Huskies head into the series after splitting their midweek games against Bradley yesterday in a doubleheader as the Braves won game one 3-2 and the Huskies took game two 5-1. NIU held Bradley to just six hits over two seven-inning games and freshman starter Tom Barry (Orland Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) came five outs away from throwing a no-hitter in game two in his first collegiate start, but did earn his first win. With the split, NIU has now won five of its last six games.
The Huskie pitching staff is anchored by junior Chuck Lukanen (Lombard, Ill./North Iowa Area C.C.), who leads NIU with a 3.41 ERA, 29 innings pitched and 17 strikeouts. Sophomore Tom Zelasko (Lansing, Ill./Mt. Carmel) leads the bullpen with a 4.19 ERA, 19.1 innings pitched and one save.
Junior Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) paces the Huskie offense as he leads NIU with a .432 average, 19 runs, 35 hits, 10 doubles, 22 RBI and eight steals in addition to his career-long 17-game hitting streak, .654 slugging percentage and .521 on-base percentage. Junior Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) also has a career-high 17-game hitting streak with a .395 average, 17 runs and 32 hits. The NIU offense has had a player get multiple hits in every game so far, led by Hood's 12, and has tallied 10 or more hits 14 times, doing so in eight of the last nine games.
Bowling Green comes to NIU after sweeping its midweek games, beating Findlay 10-5 and Cleveland State 10-6. The Falcons have won five of their last seven games and lead the all-time series with the Huskies 15-6-1, sweeping NIU in a three-game series last season on the same dates, March 28-30.
The Falcon pitching staff is led by Brennan Smith, who is 3-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 28.2 innings in which he has given up eight walks and recorded 28 strikeouts. The Bowling Green offense is hitting .322, led by a pair of batters that are hitting over .400, Tyler Elkins (.429) and Logan Meisler (.412). Elkins leads the team with 30 hits and six doubles while Derek Spencer has a team-high 22 RBI. Ryan Shay leads the team with 21 runs scored and seven stolen bases.
Fans can follow the series live via GameTracker on www.niuhuskies.com.