This week’s midweek match-up presents the first of two 2010 games involving the Northern Illinois Huskies and Bradley Braves, as BU will come to DeKalb for a 3:35 p.m. first pitch, Wednesday, April 28th. Despite a 1-2 mark this season, after a series loss to Southern Illinois, the Huskies will look to improve upon their 52-26 record against Illinois opponents under eighth-year head coach Ed Mathey.
NIU begins the week having won four of its last five contests, including an 8-5 win over Bowling Green, Sunday, to clinch the Mid-American Conference series opener on the road. The Braves enter Wednesday’s game after a Sunday 5-1 10-inning loss at Wichita State in their Missouri Valley Conference opening series, in which they were swept.
The AccuWeather.com forecast for the game calls for a sunny 74 degree Fahrenheit day.
The All-Time Series
Bradley leads the all-time series, 37-24-1, but NIU is 7-5 against the Braves since Mathey took over in 2003. The teams have split doubleheaders in each of the last three seasons. On March 25 last year in Peoria, BU took Game One, 3-2, before the Huskies headed home with a 5-1 victory.
Last Match-Up Against Bradley
After losing the first game of a doubleheader with Bradley, 3-2, the Northern Illinois baseball team earned a split by taking Game Two, 5-1, behind another strong performance from some young arms as the Huskies (9-13, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) combined to give up just six hits in two games to the Braves (6-12, 0-3 Missouri Valley Conference) on Wednesday evening at O’Brien Field.
In the first game, the Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead after scoring a pair of runs in the third inning. Bradley starter Jacob Booden hit the first two batters of the frame to put sophomore Marvin Sanchez and freshman Alex Beckmann on base, respectively. Then, a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance, which allowed junior Joe Buonavolanto to move the runners again with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field. After junior Jordin Hood struck out, Beckmann scored on a wild pitch with junior Dave Reynolds at-bat. Reynolds followed with a double to right, but senior Justin Behm grounded out to third base to end the inning.
The Braves quickly responded in the bottom half of the third as a one-out triple to right-center field by Tommy Fitzgerald set up Rob Elliot’s RBI sacrifice fly to left.
Bradley tied the game in the next inning as Nick Mitidiero was hit by freshman Kyle Glancy’s pitch and then stole second before Glancy struck out Adam Kimble. Then, with two outs, Kevin Sullivan doubled down the right field line to score Mitidiero.
Sophomore Zach Oates came in for Glancy to start the sixth and ran into trouble with one out as he gave up a single to Mitidiero. On the next play, Mitidiero stole second and advanced to third as freshman catcher Brett Frantini’s throw was off-line. Oates followed by striking out Kimble, but then walked Colby Luttrell and Sullivan. Sophomore Tom Zelasko then relieved Oates, but threw a wild pitch that allowed Mitidiero to score what proved to be the winning run. Zelasko recovered by striking out pinch-hitter Phil Kaiser to end the threat.
Booden (1-2) earned the win by going 6.1 innings while surrendering two earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts. In his first start as a Huskie, Glancy took a tough loss (0-1), giving up just two earned runs on only two hits and three walks while posting season-highs with three strikeouts and five innings pitched.
Fitzgerald, Mitidiero and Sullivan recorded Bradley’s only three hits while Mitidiero scored two runs and Sullivan drew a pair of walks. Reynolds led the NIU offense with his second three-hit game of the season (3-for-3) which included two doubles. Freshman Troy White had a pair of hits and Hood also added a hit while Buonavolanto had NIU’s lone RBI.
In the second game, the Huskies once again started out with a 2-0 lead after plating two runs in the third inning. Junior Sam Kapacinskas led off with a single to left and was replaced at first by senior Pat Minogue, who reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to second. Freshman Alex Jones followed with a single to move Minogue to second. After Buonavolanto popped out to second, Hood came through with a clutch two-out single through the left side to score Minogue and move Jones to third. After Behm walked to load the bases, sophomore Joe Etcheverry was hit by Tyler Thornton’s pitch to score Jones. Senior Nick Badgley then hit ended the inning with a grounder to third.
NIU added three more runs in the fifth to go up 5-0 as Kaiser entered the game to replace Thornton on the mound and was welcomed with back-to-back singles from Hood and Behm, creating a first and third situation for Etcheverry, who flew out to center for a sacrifice RBI. After Badgley’s ground out to Kaiser moved Behm to second with two outs, junior Nick Morreale walked. Kapacinskas and Minogue then followed with a pair of RBI singles up the middle before Jones struck out to end the frame.
The Braves scored their lone run in the sixth inning after a Fitzgerald double set up Grant Escue’s RBI sacrifice fly to center.
Bradley threatened in the seventh, but was shut down by Zelasko. Kimble started the inning with a double down the left field line. After a foul out by Luttrell, Mike McMillan single to right-center to move Kimble to third. Freshman Zach Badgley replaced NIU freshman starter Tom Barry, but walked Jim Clayton. Zelasko then came in with the bases loaded and induced Matt Fritz into a 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch to end the game that was turned by Jones and Buonavolanto.
In his first start in an NIU uniform, Barry (1-0) collected his first collegiate win by throwing a season-high 6.1 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits and two walks with a season-best three strikeouts. Zelasko’s double play gave him his first career save. Thornton (1-2) was handed the loss after giving up two earned runs on five hits and a walk with a strikeout in four innings.
Hood paced the Huskie offense with three hits, a run scored and a run driven in. Jones, who scored a run, and Kapacinskas, who drove in a run, each had two hits. Etcheverry tallied two RBI and a hit while Behm and Minogue, who drove in a run, each had a hit and a run scored.
For the Braves, Fitzgerald, Kimble and McMillan recorded their only three hits and Escue got credit for their only RBI.
Meet The Braves
The Braves ended 2009 with a 17-31, 4-17 record in the MVC and finished ninth. Off to a 6-12, 0-3 MVC start this season, Bradley has dropped four in a row after winning back-to-back games over Army in a double-dip, March 19th.
BU owns a .277 batting average, 91 runs, .379 slugging percentage and .365 on-base percentage with 24 steals. The pitching staff has a 5.22 ERA, surrendering 101 runs on 169 hits and 64 walks with 120 strikeouts in 148.1 innings.
Brian Martin leads the offense with a .373 batting average (25-for-61), 15 runs, three doubles, two triples, two home runs, 11 RBI, .547 slugging percentage, .429 on-base percentage, and 11 steals. Phil Kaiser (1-0) paces the bullpen with a 1.42 ERA in four appearances, allowing two runs on three hits and four walks with six strikeouts in 6.1 frames.
Dating back to the 2009 season, lefty Chuck Lukanen has a current streak of 11 consecutive starts, five last year and six this year, with four or more strikeouts on the mound, compiling 71 Ks over 71 innings.
Troy White’s (22-for-62, .355 average) career-long 15-game hitting streak, which currently ranks in a tie for eighth in the nation, was kept alive by getting a single in each of the first two games last weekend against Bowling Green and three in the last.
Jake Hermsen’s (8-for-27, .296 average) first collegiate hitting streak continued with a single in all three games over the weekend, extending to six games. He also has two of his three March home runs during the run, marking his first three homers of his career.
With at least a hit in all three games, Joe Etcheverry (4-for-12, .333 average) started a streak that includes a pair of doubles.
Jordin Hood (8-for-14, .571 average) also started a streak, scoring three RBI, three doubles, two runs, two doubles, and two steals.
Alex Beckmann has reached base in eight straight games, while Marvin Sanchez has reached in seven consecutive.
Andy Deain has earned a win or a save in each of his last four appearances.
Kyle Glancy has three straight scoreless appearances, earning his first two collegiate wins, allowing just one hit and three walks with two strikeouts over five innings.
“The Ralph” Advantage
Under Mathey, the Huskies are 84-49-1 at Ralph McKinzie Field, home of Huskie baseball, and a 7-5 win over Milwaukee last Wednesday, gave NIU its seventh win in its last eight openers. An 8-7 mark last season gave the Huskies their sixth above .500 season in their last seven at “The Ralph.”
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.
Hermsen knocked out his first home run of his career against CSU Bakersfield on March 5, and has three long balls in the month of March, his first three of his career, which ranks second on the team.
Brett Frantini blasted his first career home run on March 6 against CSU Bakersfield.
Jamison Wells gathered his first collegiate hit in Game One of the Southern Illinois doubleheader on March 20.
Kyle Glancy picked up his first collegiate win in relief by holding Milwaukee scoreless over 1.2 innings, surrendering only a hit last Wednesday.
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 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.
Hood entered the 2010 season ranked 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).
He now holds the all-time hit-by-pitch record at NIU with 51, breaking former teammate Bobby Stevens’ (2006-08) record of 45. He currently sits second all-time in home runs (28), fourth in hits (229), RBI (134) and at-bats (694), tied for fifth in triples (7), runs scored (147), doubles (42) and steals (44).
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, Hood, Sam Kapacinskas, Dave Reynolds and Brian Smith. The juniors are Joe Etcheverry and Zach Oates. The sophomores are Beckmann, Glancy and White.
The Four Captains
The team captains of this year’s Huskie baseball squad are Hood, Reynolds, Brian Smith and Oates.
Head coach Ed Mathey enters his eighth season at NIU as the program’s all-time wins leader (193-218-1). He sits just two wins shy of 400 for his 16-year career (398-389-3) and seven 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).
Boys of Summer
A trio of Huskies earned all-star nods during the summer of 2009 as they were competing in various summer leagues. Hood represented the Quincy Gems, Jones represented the KC Bandits and Lukanen represented the Green Bay Bullfrogs.
Being an exception athlete, 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.
It’s All In The Family
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 talked about his Bowling Green experiences over the last six years and hosted an interview with senior roommate Dave Reynolds, in which he unearthed Reynolds’ man crush on the Chicago White Sox’s second-year second baseman Gordon Beckham.
Following the Bradley game, the Huskies will host a three-game MAC home opening series against Buffalo at Ralph McKinzie Field. Games are scheduled for 3:05 p.m. on Friday and 1:05 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.