April 12, 2011
DeKALB, Ill. - A day after Jeremy Gonzales was named Mid-American Conference West Division Co-Pitcher of the Week, the senior hurler's outstanding complete game shutout of Miami (Ohio) was hoisted even higher on Tuesday as he was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's (NCBWA) Pro-Line Athletic National Pitcher of the Week.
Monday's MAC accolade marked the first individual award Gonzales had received as a member of the Northern Illinois baseball program. Now, the Bakersfield, Calif., native is just the second Huskie ever to be named a National Player of the Week. The first came on April 1, 1998, when Steve Sankey garnered The Sporting News National Pitcher of the Week honor.
"[Jeremy] pitched a gem out there; it was a pitcher's day, but Jeremy has seemed to make Sundays a pitcher's day for a while now," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "He challenged Miami to hit the baseball; he was in the strike zone all day. He kept his pitch count down early in the game, which enabled him to finish the game. It was a strong outing for us."
In terms of being recognized on a national stage for a week's performance, Gonzales is the fifth Huskie baseball player to garner such attention. The last player to do so was Bobby Stevens on April 15, 2008, when the current Baltimore Orioles organization member was named on the College Baseball Foundation (CBF) Honor Roll. In 2007, Trevor Feeney (April 10), currently in the Detroit Tigers organization, and Jesse Seykora (March 21) both received the same CBF accolade.
To earn the recognition from the NCBWA, the right-hander was flat-out dominant in a 2-0 win over Miami (Ohio) on Sunday, which gave NIU a 2-1 home series win over the RedHawks. In helping the Huskies take their second straight MAC series, Gonzales put together his first career complete game shutout and third career complete game as he allowed just three hits and struck out seven, tying his season high.
Diving deeper into one of the best starting pitcher performances during Mathey's nine-year tenure, Gonzales had a perfect game through 5.2 innings, retired the side in order in all but the sixth, eighth and ninth innings, and allowed only one base runner to reach second base. His no-walk performance is the first for NIU since 2007. He only went to a full count four times in the 30 batters he faced and 109 pitches thrown, 73 for strikes, en route to becoming the fifth Huskie, and second in as many weeks, to garner a weekly MAC accolade.
Picking up his third win in a row, Gonzales' 4-4 record matches his record in 2010, his first year as a Huskie. With at least six more starts left in the regular season, Gonzales has a chance to set a new high mark for wins in a single season and extend his current scoreless innings streak past 25.2, most of which has come in league play. In MAC starts this season, the conference's hottest hurler is 3-0 and has yet to allow a run. In 24 MAC innings, Gonzales has given up just 11 hits and five walks with 18 strikeouts and has held hitters to a measly .136 batting average.
"As I talked to Jeremy afterwards, he was just happy that he was able to help us get the series win," Mathey said. "I like when guys are concerned about the team and that can be contagious. He's put up goose eggs in four of his last five starts. He's done a six inning job, seven inning job, eight inning job and now nine inning job. Hopefully next time out it won't take him 10 innings. I've been here for nine years and I don't recall a starting pitcher being on a scoreless streak quite like this. I hope he keeps continues to have this approach. I hope he continues to work diligently in his bullpen sessions. And knowing Jeremy, he's going to. I'm very happy for Jeremy and very proud of him."
Beginning a six-game road trip, the Huskies return to action today at 3 p.m. CT to face Illinois State on the road before traveling to Chicago State for a 3 p.m. contest on Wednesday.