April 14, 2014
Tuesday, April 15 - vs UIC, 3 p.m. (Ralph McKinzie Field)
Wednesday, April 16 - at Bradley, 6 p.m. (Dozer Park)
DeKALB, Ill. - Coming off a 3-2 week, including a Mid-American Conference series victory at Eastern Michigan, the Northern Illinois baseball team (9-23-1) will again play a five game schedule this week as it hosts UIC (14-15) Tuesday and plays at Bradley (18-13) Wednesday.
NIU started last week with a walk-off victory over Illinois State, 7-6, to pick up its first win over the Redbirds since 2011. The Huskies narrowly fell to UW-Milwaukee the following day as it dropped the contest, 3-2.
In the its fourth Mid-American Conference series of the season, Northern Illinois traveled to Ypsilanti, Mich., as it took on the Eagles on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Huskies won Friday’s game 10-2 and Saturday’s game 5-3 after 10 innings play, thanks in part to two runs in the top of the 10th frame to even its extra innings record to 1-1-1. After taking a 3-1 lead through three innings, Northern Illinois surrendered three runs in the fourth, and four more in the sixth to fall to EMU, 8-4.
In the series, freshman Carl Russell extended his hitting streak to 10 games - becoming only the third NIU frosh to accomplish the feat since 2007 and the first since 2011. Former Huskies Jeff Zimmerman (2011-13) and Jordin Hood (2007-10) also accomplished the feat in their respective first seasons, en route to freshman all-america honors. Tommy Hook was outstanding in Ypsilanti, posting a .545 batting average with his 6-for-11 record at the plate with a triple, two RBI, two walks and a sacrifice fly.
The middle infield combination of Justin Fletcher and Brian Sisler were excellent as the two players collectively hit .436 with five doubles, 12 RBI and accrued an on-base percentage of .511 in the last five games. While their offensive statistics have been outstanding, defensively, the group has proven to be one of the top-double play combinations in the Mid-American Conference as they hooked up for seven of NIU’s 11 double plays last week.
The Huskies two starting pitchers in their midweek games were were solid in their times on the mound as the southpaws tossed 11.2 innings for NIU in their time. Jordan Ruckman threw 4.2 innings on Tuesday, surrendering two earned runs and striking out four while scattering seven hits. Ryan Olson, who made his first collegiate start on Wednesday against the Panthers, did not surrender an earned run in his seven innings on the mound as he struck out four batters while scattering five hits with two walks.
Through seven midweek games in 2014, the Huskies are 3-4 with three of those losses coming to No. 8 Cal Poly on NIU’s spring break trip March 11-13. As a unit in its seven midweek games, Northern Illinois is hitting 33 points high in average than its foes with a .307 clip. Both Fletcher and Sisler carry batting averages above .400 in midweek contests with Sisler pacing the duo at a .480 percentage, 32 points higher than Fletcher.
The Huskies first opponent, Illinois-Chicago, will enter Tuesday’s game with a 14-15 record and fresh off a series victory at Oakland to improve to 9-6 in the Horizon League. The Huskies defeated the Flames in Chicago March 18 as NIU accounted for five runs in the top of the ninth inning to defeat UIC, 8-7. With a team-high 112 at-bats, Jacob McNamara is hitting .402 this season with an on-base percentage of .507 — the seventh-best average in the country.
NIU will then hit the road Wednesday for its final midweek contest at Bradley, who is coming off of a series loss against Missouri State, dropping the series, 1-2. Overall this season, Bradley is 18-14 with a 4-8 clip in the Missouri Valley Conference. Four of the team’s top-hitters carry a batting average over .300 with Issac Smith leading the group with a .374 average.
For up to date game information on NIU Baseball, visit NIUHuskies.com.