NIU Hosts Ohio in Week Three of MAC Play

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April 5, 2012

DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois hosts Ohio this weekend for its second-straight home MAC series, beginning Friday at 3:05 p.m. through Easter Sunday. The Huskies are seeking their second-consecutive series victory, after defeating Akron twice last weekend.

LEAD OFFS
- NIU's Alex Jones is the Huskies hot bat right now, as he batted 7-for-14 last week and recorded an on-base percentage of .714 to earn MAC West Division Player of the Week honors.
- All-time NIU is 16-23 versus Ohio, but is 9-4 since 2007 against the Bobcats.
- Jordan Huffman is batting 11-for-27 (.407) in his last six games with six runs scored.
- Northern Illinois as a team has turned 25 double plays, 46th most in the nation.
- Junior Jamison Wells is ranked 20th nationally in stolen base.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS
2012 Overall Record    8-20
MAC Record                  2-4
Home                           3-1
Away                          2-12
Neutral                         2-7

OHIO
2012 Overall Record    13-15
MAC Record                   3-3
Home                            9-6
Away                             3-9
Neutral                          1-0

PROJECTED MATCHUPS
 
NORTHERN ILLINOIS
FRIDAY         RHP Taylor Nawrocki (1-2) 39 IP | 5.31 ERA | 26 SO | 25 BB  
SATURDAY    LHP Jake Hermsen (2-2) 38 IP | 6.16 ERA | 33 SO | 21 BB
SUNDAY        RHP Tony Manville (1-4) 43.1 IP | 6.23 ERA | 17 SO | 10 BB

OHIO
FRIDAY         RHP Brent Choban (3-2) 49 IP | 2.76 ERA | 27 SO | 13 BB  
SATURDAY    LHP Jason Moulton (1-2) 38.1 IP | 2.11 ERA | 34 SO | 9 BB
SUNDAY        TBA

FOLLOW FROM HOME

Fans can follow all three three games via GameTracker on NIUHuskies.com. Visit the baseball schedule and click on the corresponding game on the schedule. Fans can also follow along on Twitter, by following @NIUAthletics or @NIU_Baseball.

LAST TIME OUT: NIU LOCKS UP SERIES WITH THE ZIPS
Northern Illinois hosted its first Mid-American Conference series last weekend against Akron last week, taking game one on Friday, 10-5, and Sunday's game three, 8-2. The Huskies combined for 19 hits in both of their wins and were both lead by strong starting pitching performances, with an eight inning performance by Taylor Nawrocki on Friday and another eight tilt effort by Jake Hermsen in game three. Alex Jones tallied six RBI in the series to lead at the plate.

DOUBLE-TROUBLE
Senior Alex Jones has cranked out the two-baggers lately, totaling 10 in 26 games this season. His most impressive stretch of the season was five in five games as he recorded two against Southern Illinois March 16, another versus Illinois March 18 and added two more against Illinois-Chicago March 20 in the home-opener. As a freshman, Jones hit nine in 47 games played. He is sixth all-time in NIU history with 44 in 183 games played.

FRANTINI'S DOUBLE DOWN
With his three doubles last week, senior Brett Frantini increased his season total to six. The Minooka, Ill. native blasted a double against UW-Milwaukee March 27 and added another March 30 versus Akron that drove in one run. In the series finale against the Zips, he hit his final of the weekend en route to finishing 4-for-10 at the plate and scoring three runs.

FINDING A WAY
Senior Alex Jones just finds a way to get on-base for the Huskies as he has currently reached base safely in the last 20 games he's played in. So far Jones has batted .333 during the season and has a team leading 34 hits, 10 doubles and 11 walks so far.

HE'S HONORED
Senior Alex Jones collected the Huskies first MAC West Division Player of the Week award on Monday afternoon, reigning first team all-region shortstop collected seven hits, four walks, six RBI, a double, a stolen base and three runs for NIU. He boasted an on-base percentage of .714 as the Huskies leadoff man in two of Northern Illinois' games last weekend. It was the third honor of his career and NIU's second weekly honor this year, as Taylor Nawrocki earned distinction as MAC West Pitcher of the Week March 20. He leads the team in RBI (19) and batting average (.333).

LIKE A ROCK
Junior Taylor Nawrocki has been an anchor for NIU as a starter lately, pitching 23.1 innings for the Huskies and owning 2-1 record in his last three starts. He contributed 8.1 innings in NIU's 3-0 shutout win over Illinois March 18, en route to MAC West Pitcher of the Week honors. Last Friday versus Akron, Nawrocki surrendered three runs in the first inning before settling down and keeping the Zips at bay to lead NIU to a 10-5 victory. He leads starting pitchers in earned run average at a 5.31 clip.

LEADERS OF THE PACK
The folowing Huskies are the Mid-American Conference leaders in their respective statistical categories. Check it out and see for yourself.

INDIVIDUAL
Category          Player           Total  No. 2
Stolen Bases    Jamison Wells  18       15
Saves              Kyle Glancy     5         4

THE WRAP SHEET
Northern Illinois and Ohio aren't exactly strangers in the night as the two teams have met 39 times before, with the first taking place in 1965, a 4-0 victory by the Bobcats. The two teams have played the last two seasons and have met a total of 12 times since 2006. NIU won last years series, scoring a 5-4 victory and a 19-10 slugfest win, led by Troy White's two homerun, seven RBI performance.

The Huskies have won seven of the last 10 games against the Bobcats. The proof is in the pudding.

Ohio        
NIU trails OU, 16-23 (Last 10: 7-3)
3/26/06    W 10-7
3/23/07    W 6-4
3/24/07    W 5-4
3/25/07    W 7-2
4/16/10    W 7-6        
4/17/10    L 20-9
                L 9-7
4/15/11    W 5-4
4/17/11    L 7-5
               W 19-10

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS
Ohio is just under the 500 mark so far this season with a 13-15 clip and 3-3 in its MAC contests. Like the Huskies, OU won its first conference series last weekend when it defeated Eastern Michigan Saturday (7-2) and Sunday (10-9) to even its MAC record on the year.

Big bats have been the Cats M.O. in 2012 as five batters carry averages over .300, including Jake Madsen's impressive .389 clip. He has a team-leading 42 and has driven in 15 runs. Jensen Painter, second on the team in average at .358, is Ohio's run generator and provider, smashing 11 home runs, 29 RBI, 26 runs and drawing 20 walks. Pitchers Jason Moulton and Brent Choban have been steady for Ohio as both have ERA's under with Moulton at 2.11 and Choban at 2.76. Moulton has struck out 34 batters this season and walked only nine.

NAME AND RANK
The Huskies are holding their weight against some of the nation's top teams statistically, as NIU ranks in the top 100 in several categories in the NCAA's March 25 stats report. See for yourself.

TEAM
Category                  Rank    Actual
Stolen Bases/Game    87th    1.32
Stolen Bases              71st    37
Double Plays/Game    58th    0.89
Double Plays              46th    25

INDIVIDUAL
Category                   Player             Rank    Actual
Doubles                    Alex Jones         56th    10
Doubles/game           Alex Jones         65th    0.38
Stolen bases             Jamison Wells    20th    17
Stolen Bases/game    Jamison Wells    31st    0.61
Sacrifice bunts          Jamison Wells    80th    6
Saves                       Kyle Glancy       54th    5
Games Started          Tony Manville    21st    7
                               Jake Hermsen    21st    7

11:0 - AN OK RATIO
In his last two starts, senior pitcher Jake Hermsen has owned a 2-0 record in 14 innings of work, striking out 11 batters, walking zero and only allowing three earned runs. Against UW-Milwaukee, his first win of the season, the New London, Wis. native fanned five batters in six innings and nearly pitched a complete game shutout against Akron, but finished the game with six strikeouts in eight innings.

It is the best two-game stretch of his career, as he last had a similar pair of games April 21 and April 28 in 2010 against Iowa and Bradley, respectively. He posted a 1-0 register, 12 strikeouts, three walks and allowed four earned runs in 12 innings of work against those opponents.

TROY IS OUR BOY
Senior third baseman Troy White is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak and has posted some impressive numbers in that time frame. Since it started March 17 at Southern Illinois, White has batted .361 (13-for-36), drove in 10 RBI, scored seven runs and walked four times. White is second on the team in RBI this season with a total of 18, one shy of tying leader Alex Jones, and has seven in MAC play.

THE GLUE THAT BINDS BEHIND THE PLATE
Senior Brett Frantini was selected to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List March 7, awarded to the nation's top-Division I catcher. So far in 2012 the Minooka, Ill. native has thrown out 15 runners attempting to steal base and has knocked in six RBI with six doubles and seven runs scored on 13 hits. Past recipients of the award include the Oakland A's Kurt Suzuki and the San Francisco Giants Buster Posey.

ANYTHING YOU CAN DO, I CAN DO BETTER
Northern Illinois has had the defensive edge over its opponents this season comitting 12 fewer errors this year than its opponents, 52-40.  The Huskies have played seven errorless games this season, two of which were against nationally ranked teams (No. 11 Arizona State, No. 24 Texas Tech).

THE UBIQUITOUS ONE
It may just be a fancier word for utility man, but sophomore Alex Klonowski is ubiquitous on the diamond for Northern Illinois. In his 25 starts this season, the Kearney, Mo. native has started five different positions (2B, SS, 3B, RF, LF) and has made 10 relief appearances on the mound.

He has comitted one error in the field, sports a .289 batting average and is second on the team in RBI (13) and doubles (five) at the plate. In his nine innings of work on the mound, Klonowski is 2-0, has struck out 15 batters, allowed 13 walks and an ERA of 7.00.

HE MAKES GOLD RECORDS
It may just be a line from an SNL skit, but it applies to senior Alex Jones. Against Illinois March 17, Jones broke the Northern Illinois record for career triples with the 12th of his career in the bottom of the eighth inning. He set himself apart from NIU Hall of Famer Tom Wittum (1969-72) and Jeff Sevenich (1977-80), who were previously tied for the career lead.

PINCH-HITTING HEROES
The Huskies are batting an impressive .421 (8-for-19) in pinch hitting situations with freshman Micah McCulloch leading the way with four hits in five pinch-hit situations (.800). He has accounted for three doubles in that stretch, including one that tied the Huskies with No. 18 St. John's at the Brooks Wallace Memorial Challenge in Lubbock, Texas Feb. 25 in the ninth inning. Joe Battaglia, Chris Divarco, Jordan Huffman and Michael Kane have also contributed a hit to the Huskies pinch-hitting annals.

BADGE OF HONOR
Redshirt junior Zach Badgley has been solid for the Huskies in his 10 relief appearances in 2012. The McHenry, Ill. native leads Northern Illinois in ERA with a 3.18 clip in 11.1 innings and has allowed 10 hits, seven walks, seven strikeouts and two earned runs.

NEXT UP
The Huskies will host a midweek contest against Illinois State Tuesday April 10, beginning at 3:05 p.m.