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The Mound Matchups Fri., April 8 @ 3:05 p.m. CT vs. Miami (Ohio) at Ralph McKinzie Field RHP Zach Oates (2-4 | 3.83 ERA) vs. RHP Mac Thoreson (2-2 | 2.03 ERA)
Sat.., April 9 @ 1:05 p.m. CT vs. Miami (Ohio) at Ralph McKinzie Field LHP Tom Barry (2-1 | 4.15 ERA) vs. LHP Tyler Melling (5-0 | 2.85 ERA)
Sun., April 10 @ 1:05 p.m. CT vs. Miami (Ohio) at Ralph McKinzie Field RHP Jeremy Gonzales (3-4 | 5.26 ERA) vs. T.B.A.
All three games will have live stats via GameTracker available on NIUHuskies.com.
After splitting a pair of games with Missouri Valley Conference and Illinois foes Illinois State (L, 7-4) and Bradley (W, 8-5) this week, the Huskies look to finish their five-game home stand on a positive note against Miami (Ohio). Both teams enter with a 4-2 record in Mid-American Conference play and are coming off opposite results in their last MAC series. The Huskies, who are 11-5 in their last 16 contests, swept Buffalo on the road while Miami lost two of three at home to Ball State.
The Weather.com forecast for the games calls for temperatures in the high 60s and partly sunny with a 40 percent chance of showers each day.
The All-Time Series
Miami holds a 26-11-1 lead against NIU and won two of three in Oxford, Ohio, last season on April 9-11. However, the Huskies won the finale of the series, 5-4.
NIU’s sweep of Buffalo on the road came with two rare feats. The Huskies swept a road doubleheader for the second time since 2008 and swept a road MAC series for the third time since 2003. Fittingly, the last time the Huskies swept a road MAC series was in the same place they did it this past weekend -- at St. Bonaventure’s McGraw-Jennings Field on March 22-23, 2008.
Starting pitchers Zach Oates, Tom Barry, and Jeremy Gonzalez tamed the Buffalo Bulls offense last weekend. The Huskie hurlers combined to limit UB to two earned runs over 21 innings of work.
Joe Etcheverry is drawing up quite a 2011 season for the Huskies. The senior first baseman is currently pacing the team with a .329 average and earned his first career MAC West Division Player of the Week award this week, the fourth such honor for the Huskies in 2011. The Bakersfield, Calif., native hit .588 (10-for-17), along with posting a slugging percentage of .941, .708 on-base percentage, six runs, six walks, three doubles, three RBI, one homer and steal.
Walking to Victory
The Huskies tied a team game record by walking 14 times in a 20-5 win over Chicago State Tuesday, as NIU nearly had more walks than hits (16) en route to scoring a season-high runs. Of the 14 free passes, six came around to score. The last time the Huskies achieved the feat was against Eastern Michigan on April 19, 1998.
Gaga for Gonzo
Down 2-0 in the MAC opening series against Bowling Green, Jeremy Gonzales spear-headed a three-man shutout by throwing seven innings and allowing just four hits and one walk with six strikeouts, tying a season high, in salvaging a 3-0 win on March 27.
Gonzales was faced with the opposite situation in his last start on Sunday, up 2-0 in the MAC series against Buffalo. He responded by completing the sweep with eight innings of scoreless ball, allowing four hits and four walks with five strikeouts to win his third game in his last four starts. During the four-game stretch, Gonzales has a minimal 1.54 ERA as he has allowed just four earned runs on 15 hits and 15 walks with 17 strikeouts in his last 23.1 innings, holding opponents to just two extra base hits (two doubles) and a .185 batting average.
No Longer Shutout by Shutouts
In Sunday’s 7-0 win over Buffalo, the Huskies notched their fourth shutout of the season. Prior to the first shutout of the year on March 16 against North Dakota, NIU had gone 108 games between shutouts. Now, the Huskies have four over their last 16 games. The second came in a 3-0 over Illinois on March 17 and the third came on March 27 in a 3-0 victory versus Bowling Green.
Luck of the Irish
The Huskies are 2-0 with the luck of the green jerseys they donned in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Even better, NIU has not given up a run yet. The first win came on March 17 at Rent One Park in Marion, Ill., against Illinois. The second was Sunday at home over Bowling Green. Both games were won 3-0 by NIU. On March 17, the Huskies wore green jerseys and hats to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Sunday, NIU held a silent auction for the green jerseys at Fatty’s Pub & Grille in DeKalb after the win against the Falcons. The successful event’s proceeds went directly to the NIU baseball program.
MAC Awards Sweep Week
For only the second time in program history, the Huskies swept the weekly Mid-American Conference baseball awards on March 23. Alex Jones won MAC West Division Player of the Week and Zach Oates earned MAC West Division Pitcher of the Week. The dual occurrence last happened on March 6, 2006, when first baseman Scott Simon and pitcher Nick Hall turned the trick after stellar performances in a three-game series against Southern Illinois. Proficient work against SIU was a common thread both times.
Jones extended his hitting streak to seven games as he led NIU with a .462 batting average (12-for-26) and .615 slugging percentage to help the Huskies go 5-1 on their six-game spring break trip, which included victories over North Dakota, Saint Louis, Illinois (twice) and Southern Illinois. The junior also collected six RBI, four runs, two doubles, a triple and one stolen base.
Oates breezed through an impressive complete-game shutout against Illinois (Mar. 17), scattering three singles and a walk with five strikeouts to nail down his first win of 2011. Oates’ performance was the first shutout hurled by a Huskie pitcher since Hall turned the trick March 4, 2006 at Southern Illinois, which earned him one of the two weekly MAC awards NIU took home that week.
A Glance of the End
Remaining a perfect 4-for-4 in save attempts, junior Kyle Glancy nailed down NIU’s win Wednesday with a 1.1-inning scoreless appearance versus Bradley. He earned his first two career saves during the spring break trip. The former setup and part-time starter picked up his initial save against Illinois (Mar. 18). The next day, he nailed down a win over Southern Illinois. His third save came against Bowling Green on March 27.
Glancy has a sturdy 2.16 ERA that covers 16.2 innings over 12 appearances, eight of which have been scoreless. He’s holding opponents to a .217 batting average and has 11 strikeouts. Even better, Glancy has been the toughest Huskie to hit against with runners on base, allowing a .150 average.
Three Huskies have taken home all-tournament honors this season. Junior Troy White and freshman Jeff Zimmerman both grabbed the accolade at Texas Tech’s Brooks Wallace Memorial Classic Feb. 25-27. White hit .500 (9-for-18) and led the team with four RBI along with four runs scored, two doubles and two triples. Zimmerman hit .625 (5-for-8) with two RBI and a run scored.
The following weekend, Zimmerman garnered the honor again, sharing the spotlight with sophomore Jamison Wells, at Arizona State’s Coca-Cola Classic. Wells hit.529 (9-for-17) with five runs scored, four RBI and two steals. Zimmerman hits .400 (6-for-15) with two runs and an RBI.
Spring Training Experience
The games from March 3-6 were held at the Surprise Stadium Complex, Spring Training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. The Huskies took in a few Major League Baseball Spring Training games and met with some of the players. NIU also followed a Chicago Cubs-Royals contest before facing Arizona State at Surprise Stadium. The occurrence was the second in as many years for the Huskies, as they also followed an Atlanta Braves-Milwaukee Brewers game at Miller Park last year on May 12.
Devil of a Time
Arizona State was ranked as the No. 7 team in the nation when NIU faced the Sun Devils last Friday. The game marked the second-highest ranked opponent that NIU has ever faced. The Huskies also faced the Sun Devils when they were ranked No. 5 in 2010 and No. 8 in 2009, which were the previous two highest ranked foes.
Anthony Andres: Six straight scoreless appearances covering six innings.
Tom Barry: Three straight starts with at least 5.1 innings thrown, two earned runs allowed and at least four strikeouts.
Troy White: Four-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 13 consecutive games.
Jeff Zimmerman: Seven-game hitting streak and has reached base safely in 13 straight games.
White Named MAC Player of the Week
Junior Troy White’s bat caught fire for the Huskies in Texas Feb. 25-27 as he hit .500 (9-for-18) with four extra base hits, RBI and runs scored in NIU’s four games. Compiling a .833 slugging percentage and .500 on-base percentage, not only did the Chicago native’s superb weekend earn him an All-Tournament selection at the Brooks Wallace Memorial Classic, it also earned him his first Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week award.
Zimm has Zing
Freshman Jeff Zimmerman has gotten off to a fast start at the plate. The first baseman/designated hitter leads the team with a .511 slugging percentage, four home runs, 21 RBI and seven multi-RBI games. He also ranks second with a .315 average, six doubles, .394 on-base percentage and eight multi-hit games.
The "Ralph" Advantage
Under Mathey, the Huskies are 105-67-1 at Ralph McKinzie Field, home of Huskie baseball, and a 7-5 win over Milwaukee March 24th, 2010 gave NIU its seventh win in its last eight openers. An 11-7 mark last season gave the Huskies their seventh above .500 season in their last eight at “The Ralph.” Thus far, NIU is 3-4 at home in 2011.
The Huskies are 5-2 against Illinois opponents in 2011. Twice NIU took down Illinois and the other victories were over Southern Illinois, Chicago State and Bradley. The two losses were to Aurora and Illinois State. NIU was 5-3 against Illinois foes in 2010. In eight seasons under head coach Ed Mathey, the Huskies are 61-29 versus intrastate opponents.
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 Kansas City Royals’ Low-A affiliate Kane County Cougars. The Huskies return to “The Elf” in 2011 against UW-Milwaukee on May 17. 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. NIU and White Sox raised over $65,000 for the NIU February 14 Forward, Together Forward Scholarship Fund. In 2009, NIU hosted Milwaukee at Road Ranger Stadium in Loves Park, Ill., home of the Northern League’s Rockford RiverHawks. The Huskies also faced Northwestern at Road Ranger Stadium last season, marking NIU’s first two games in the Rockford area and the first two Division I baseball games at the stadium.
At least one Huskie has signed a Major League Baseball contract in each of head coach Ed Mathey’s eight years at NIU. Overall, 24 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 11.
Mathey’s 2010 signing class of nine future Huskies is the largest of his eight-year tenure. The class, which is full of large, athletic frames of raw talent, is composed of six players from the state of Illinois with one each from Arizona, Minnesota and Missouri. Providing added depth all around for the 2011 roster, the group includes RHP Eli Anderson (Glenview, Ill./New Trier Township), LHP/OF Anthony Andres (Western Springs, Ill./St. Rita of Cascia), C Joe Battaglia (Westchester, Ill./St. Joseph), IF Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic), 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 quartet of Huskies earned all-star nods during the summer of 2010 as they were competing in various wooden bat summer leagues. In the Prospect League All-Star Game, Alex Jones represented the Quincy Gems while Alex Beckmann and Tom Zelasko represented the DeKalb County Liners. Joe Etcheverry represented the San Louis Obispo Rattlers in the California Collegiate League.
Being an exception athlete, Wells not only plays baseball for Northern Illinois, he also plays wide receiver on the football team. 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.
Ben and Joe Etcheverry are one of 35 pairs of brothers that play NCAA Division I baseball on the same team. The Etcheverrys are also one of five brother duos in the Mid-American Conference.
Next up for the Huskies are a pair of road midweek contests. NIU will face Illinois State Tuesday, April 12, at 4:30 CT and Chicago State Wednesday, April 13, at 3:00 p.m.