NIU Baseball Heads to Eastern Michigan for MAC Series

GO HUSKIES Freshman leadoff hitter Carl Russell is hitting .429 in the last six games for NIU
GO HUSKIES
Freshman leadoff hitter Carl Russell is hitting .429 in the last six games for NIU
GO HUSKIES

April 10, 2014

NIU-EMU Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Week 9 - Northern Illinois (7-21-1; 3-6 MAC) vs Eastern Michigan (10-19, 1-8 MAC)
Ypsilanti, Mich. (Oestrike Field)
Friday, April 11 at Eastern Michigan (5 p.m.)
Saturday, April 12 at Eastern Michigan (2 p.m.)
Sunday, April 13 at Eastern Michigan (Noon)
Live Stats: EMUEagles.com
Audio: EMUEagles.com

NORTHERN ILLINOIS’ PITCHING ROTATION
Friday: LHP Anthony Andres (2-4)
    2014 stats: 36.2 IP, 3.44 ERA, 18 K, 23 BB, 1.55 WHIP
Saturday: RHP Eli Anderson (1-5)
    2014 stats: 48.2 IP, 4.62 ERA, 36 K, 13 BB, 1.35 WHIP
Sunday: RHP Alex Klonowski (0-1)
    2014 stats: 49.0 IP, 2.94 ERA, 35 K, 21 BB, 1.10 WHIP

EASTERN MICHIGAN PITCHING ROTATION
Friday: RHP Sterling Sharp (1-1)
    2014 stats: 19.1 IP, 4.66 ERA, 12 K, 11 BB, 1.99 WHIP
Saturday: RHP Jake Andrews (2-3)
    2014 stats: 39.1 IP, 3.89 ERA, 26 K, 18 BB, 1.56 WHIP
Sunday: LHP Michael Marsinek (2-1)
    2014 stats: 22.2 IP, 3.18 ERA, 8 K, 12 BB, 1.39 WHIP

DeKALB, Ill. - After a split in their two midweek games, defeating Illinois State and falling to UW-Milwaukee, the NIU Huskies baseball team (7-21-1, 3-6 MAC) will hit the road for its fourth Mid-American Conference series of the season as it heads to Ypsilanti, Mich., for a showdown with Eastern Michigan (10-19, 1-8 MAC). In the last two series at EMU’s Oestrike Field, 2012 and 2011, the Huskies are 4-2.

Since opening the month of April last Wednesday at Valparaiso, NIU owns a 3-3 record and is 2-1 in its last three games. In their last MAC series, the Huskies dropped a Saturday doubleheader to Toledo, 10-4, 6-4, but responded Sunday with a victory over the Rockets, 7-0, thanks to a complete game, one-hit shutout on the mound by Alex Klonowski. The senior earned MAC West Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance. It was the first complete game, one-hit outing by an NIU pitcher since Paul Erschen (1994-97) on April 1, 1997 at Valparaiso.

That momentum from Sunday carried into Northern Illinois’ first midweek game against the Redbirds on Tuesday afternoon as it went toe-to-toe with ISU. The two squads exchanged leads four times in the contest with the Huskies getting the final say in the bottom of the ninth inning down, 6-5, scoring the tying run on a double by Brian Sisler and the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Chris Divarco to give the Huskies its first win over the Redbirds since 2011, 7-6.

On Wednesday versus the Panthers, the Huskies found themselves in a 1-0 hole before they stepped to the plate as UWM took advantage of an NIU miscue in the infield. However, starting pitcher Ryan Olson was superb as he hurled a career-high seven innings with four strikeouts and two walks.

The Huskies tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning with three-straight singles, including the RBI single by Sisler to make it, 1-1. UWM broke the tie in the top of the eighth inning with two runs to make it 3-1 but NIU mounted a comeback in the bottom of the frame, scoring one run on an RBI single by Divarco. However, with runners on the corners and two outs in the stanza, NIU was unable to score anymore runs and fell to Milwaukee after a scoreless ninth, 3-2.

In the last six games, the NIU bats have hot, led by by the frosh infielder Russell, who is 12-for-28 (.429) at the plate in that time frame. Most impressive is the fact that Russell has accomplished all this as the Huskies leadoff hitter as he has made seven-consecutive starts at the No. 1 spot in the lineup.

Compliment to Russell has been Fletcher and Sisler, who have each been crucial to the Huskies lineup in their own way in the last six games. Sisler has hammered four doubles in the last four games while Fletcher has boosted his batting average to a team-high .306. Fletcher leads the squad in on-base percentage at a clip of .375, only one-point ahead of Sisler’s .374 mark.

Eastern Michigan is 10-18 this season with a 1-8 record in the Mid-American Conference. The MAC schedule for the Eagles has been difficult thus far as they’ve taken on Akron (6-3), Kent State (7-2) and Ball State (7-1) to start the Road to Avon. EMU was swept in its last series versus the Cardinals and in its first against the Zips, with its lone win occurring in the final game of the series at Kent State March 30, 2-1.

The Eagles are hitting .262 as a team and have an ERA of 5.55 through 29 games this season. Lee Longo returns as the big bat in the Eastern Michigan lineup, hitting 50 points higher than any batter on the roster with a .371 average. He also leads the squad with with a .514 slugging percentage in part to 12 doubles and a home run with a by-product of 26 RBI. Mitchell McGeein has also been a top-slugger in the lineup as he leads the Eagles with four home runs with 22 RBI and a .300 average.

Northern Illinois will follow the Eastern Michigan series with a pair of midweek games, hosting UIC on April 15 and heading to Bradley on the 16th to finish its continuation game from March 15, followed by the regularly scheduled game.