April 9, 2009
Friday: NIU LHP Chuck Lukanen (3-4, 4.35, 41.1 IP, 49 H, 18 BB, 25 SO) vs. Akron RHP Tom Farmer (1-5, 6.21, 42 IP, 47 H, 21 BB, 38 SO)
Saturday: NIU LHP Dave Reynolds (0-2, 6.85, 23.2 IP, 42 H, 6 BB, 17 SO) vs. Akron RHP Frank Turocy (2-4, 8.59, 36.2 IP, 57 H, 17 BB, 21 SO)
DeKalb, Ill. - The Northern Illinois baseball team is set to head to Akron, Ohio this weekend for a three-game series against Mid-American Conference foe Akron (6-23, 3-6) at Lee R. Jackson Field that starts on Friday at 2 p.m. CT. The Huskies (11-18, 4-4 MAC) then play the Zips at noon on Saturday and Sunday in the last two games of the series.
NIU leads the all-time series against the Zips 14-7 and has won seven of the last nine games, including the last four. Under head coach Ed Mathey, the Huskies are 10-5 against Akron as both teams will enter the series looking to stop losing skids. The Huskies will hope to end a four-game skid, while the Zips have lost four of their last five.
"You are going to have a couple hungry teams out there," said Mathey. "They are at home so that gives then an advantage. We have to figure out how to close out leads and once we figure that out we can get back into the mix of things.
"In two of the last four games we were in command and let them go late. We need to figure that end out of it and the defense needs work, but our hitting has been good, especially in the early parts of the games, so we need to continue to hit the ball well."
Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) paces the NIU offense with a .413 average, 27 runs, 43 hits, 12 doubles, five homeruns, 27 RBI, nine steals, a .692 slugging percentage and a .516 on-base percentage. He has homered in three of his last five games and has at least a hit in all five of those games. Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) ranks second on the team with a .340 average, 35 hits, six doubles and a .419 on-base percentage. Matt Behren (Elmwood Park, Ill./Holy Cross), Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young), Nick Badgley (McHenry, Ill./McHenry C.C.) and Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper) are all also batting over .300.
The NIU bullpen is anchored by Kyle Glancy (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park-River Forest), Tom Zelasko (Lansing, Ill./Mt. Carmel) and Zach Oates (Wheaton, Ill./North). Glancy leads the `pen with a 4.50 ERA in 13 appearances that cover 20 innings. Zelasko is tied with Reynolds for the team lead in saves with three in a MAC best 19 appearances and 23.2 innings with a 4.56 ERA. Oates has 19 strikeouts in 18 innings over 17 appearances and has a team-low opponent batting average of .239.
The Akron offense features six players batting over .300 in Brian Kordal (.337), Jake Plata (.333), Grett Savage (.333), Matt Roberts (.330), Brandon White (.324) and Kevin Haas (.320). Roberts leads the team with 26 runs and three steals, and is tied for the lead in homers with Haas (4). Kordal leads the Zips with 25 RBI and a .541 slugging percentage, while Haas has a team-high 40 hits. Plata has a team-best .441 on-base percentage along with 20 walks.
The Zips' bullpen is led by Ryne Romick, Scott Foster and Chris Bassitt. Romick leads with a 3.38 ERA and two saves in addition to having 15 strikeouts and only five walks. Foster has a 4.18 ERA and has a team-high 23.2 innings pitched. Bassitt has a 4.24 ERA, one save and 18 strikeouts in 17 innings, while he has held opponents to a team-low .182 batting average.
"Akron is a good hitting team and they always have been," said Mathey. "We are going into this one with a different psychology than last weekend because we are on our heels after a few losses. It will be interesting to see how we do going on the road as we try to compete in this conference.
"Akron graduated three pretty good hitters, but has some good guys returning that have improved. On the mound, they have two guys that have been a pretty good challenge for us in the past. Farmer handcuffed us last year. Turocy pitches well at times and did well against us last year, too."
The entire series can be followed with live stats on www.gozips.com.