April 13, 2009
Tues.:NIU LHP Jake Hermsen (0-0, 99.00, 0.2 IP, 4 H, 8 BB, 1 SO) vs. ISU RHP Ben Hays (0-0, 16.86, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 5 SO)
Wed.:NIU RHP Zach Badgley (0-0, 13.50, 8.2 IP, 18 H, 7 BB, 9 SO) vs. T.B.A.
DeKalb, Ill. - After a seven-game road trip, the Northern Illinois baseball team returns to Ralph McKinzie Field tomorrow to begin a five-game homestand against Illinois State (16-10, 6-4 Missouri Valley) on Tuesday at 3:05 p.m. CT. The Huskies (11-21, 4-7 Mid-American Conference) then face Chicago State (3-31 Independent) on Wednesday at 3:35 p.m. and then host Toledo (14-17, 7-5 MAC) in a three-game weekend series.
"Hopefully being at home will help us," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey, who is 80-43-1 at home since his arrival in 2003 and is 5-1 this year. "It couldn't come at a better time to get back home. Ralph McKinzie Field has been good to us. Hopefully our players will have more confidence and being at home could relieve some pressure."
The Huskies are 22-8 under Mathey when playing at home against an Illinois opponent. NIU enters the week after tallying at least 10 hits in each of the last three games which the Huskies have done 17 times this season. NIU has also tallied at least a run in three of its last four first innings and have done so 14 times. Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) hit .412 (7-for-17) with four runs, 11 RBI, a double, two homeruns, a walk, a stolen base in four games for the Huskies this past week, compiling a .421 on-base percentage and a .824 slugging percentage. Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) leads the Huskies in most offensive categories and is on an eight-game hitting streak in which he homered in four consecutive games at one point from April 4 through April 10.
Illinois State leads the all-time series with NIU 32-28, but the Huskies have won four of the last six games against the Redbirds despite losing the last matchup 14-10 on April 23, 2008 in DeKalb. ISU heads into the game after winning three of its last four games. The Cardinal offense is led by Mike Stalowy, who has a .343 batting average, 24 runs, five doubles, four triples, two homers, 22 RBI and eight steals in addition to a .535 slugging percentage. Evan Kohli leads the team with a .345 average, while he has 21 runs, five doubles, two homers, 19 RBI and four steals with a .447 on-base percentage.
"Illinois State is playing good baseball this year," Mathey said. "They have a lot of juniors and seniors that play with confidence. We will be going with a freshman in his first start in Jake Hermsen so hopefully he won't be too nervous. Obviously, the goal is to go out and win these two games and get momentum as we head into the Toledo series this weekend."
NIU leads the all-time series against Chicago State 35-19-1 and has won its last four games against the Cougars, including a 20-6 win on May 15, 2007 in DeKalb in the last matchup. CSU enters its game with NIU on a nine-game losing skid. The Cougar offense is led by Patrick Hernandez, who is hitting .357 with 13 runs, eight doubles, two triples and nine RBI. Matt Haug leads the Cougars with two homers and 16 RBI.
"Chicago State is a program at D-I level that has a couple pretty big wins," said Mathey. "They beat Tulane last year. They are an independent team so we may be seeing some of their better pitchers. We will be starting another kid for the first time in Zach Badgley. Hopefully we are coming off a win in that game to give us a boost."
Fans can listen to the Illinois State game via free streaming radio through Huskie All-Access on www.niuhuskies.com where live stats will also be available on GameTracker. Wednesday's Chicago State game will be available on GameTracker as well, and streaming radio will be available www.gocsucougars.com.