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RHP Brian Smith (0-2 | 19.50 ERA) vs. T.B.A. T.B.A. vs. T.B.A.
The Leadoff In the second 2010 Huskie professional stadium game in seven days, NIU will take on Illinois Chicago in a familiar venue: Elfstrom Stadium, home of the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars. At the home of Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics Low-A affiliate, the Huskies are 4-0 and have played a game there in every season since 2005 except the 2009 campaign. The last time the Huskies and Flames met was at the Geneva, Ill. park in 2008 and NIU came out on top 4-3.
The Huskies come into the midweek contests after losing two of three at home to Ohio, but since losing eight in a row earlier in the season, NIU has been victorious in nine of its last 17. Coincidentally, the offense has seen a rise as well. After scoring 10 runs in the four games prior to the Ohio series, the Huskie bats put up 23 tallies in last weekend’s three-game home set and have scored at least six runs in 11 of the last 17 games.
The Flames head into the game after dropping two of three at Wright State but have won five of their last eight. UIC swept Butler in a three-game home series two weekends ago, lost to Western Michigan at home, and defeated Central Michigan at home before winning the opener at Wright State Friday and falling in a doubleheader Saturday.
Tickets to the UIC game can be purchased at the gate as general admission is $5 and students with a valid NIU student ID can enter for $2. Elfstrom Stadium is located in the Kane County Events Center, just south of the intersection of Roosevelt Rd. (Rt. 38) and Kirk Rd. on the East side of Geneva.
From I-88: Take I-88 to the Farnsworth Ave. North exit, 5 miles north to Cherry Lane, left to the stadium.
From I-90: Take I-90 to Route 59 South, to Route 64 West, to Kirk Road south, 3 miles to Cherry Lane, right to stadium.
From I-290: Take I-290 to I-88. Take I-88 West to the Farnsworth Ave. North exit, 5 miles north to Cherry Lane, left to stadium.
After losing February 21st’s four-game series finale at Arizona State due to field conditions, the Huskies found a replacement game by adding this trip to Iowa. Prior to this season, head coach Ed Mathey’s Huskies have met the Hawkeyes five times, winning twice, including a road win in 2008 in the last match-up between the two teams.
The Hawkeyes will host Western Illinois Tuesday before playing NIU and are coming off being swept in a three-game series at Indiana over the weekend. Before the sweep, Iowa had won nine of its last 13.
The AccuWeather.com forecast for the contest calls for a gametime sunny temperature of 63 with a light breeze Tuesday night and sunny 70 gametime condition Wednesday night.
The All-Time Series Northern Illinois the all-time series versus Illinois Chicago, 26-23, and is 4-1 under Mathey, winning each of the last three contests.
Iowa leads the all-time series against NIU, 15-7, and the Huskies are 2-3 under Mathey, but won the last contest in on March 26th, 2008, 5-4, in Iowa City.
Last Match-Up Against Illinois Chicago Northern Illinois built a 3-0 lead in the first inning and held on for a 4-3 triumph over Illinois-Chicago April 22, 2008 at Elfstrom Stadium. Starter Matt Jernstad (Oswego, Ill./Oswego) turned in his best performance of the season and Justin Behm (Downers Grove, Ill./North) blasted a two-run home run to lead the Huskies (17-19).
NIU scored in the first inning for the 11th time in the last 12 outings when a RBI single by Jordin Hood plated Jeff Thomas for the game’s initial tally. Two batters later, Behm belted a two-run round-tripper over the center field fence to give the Huskies a three-run advantage.
The Flames cut the deficit to one with a pair of runs in the fifth on a double by Tony Altavilla and a sacrifice fly by Rafael Garcia.
UIC threatened in the sixth by loading the bases with one out before Jernstad induced a key, inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Huskies added an insurance run in the seventh that later proved to be key. With the bases loaded, a wild pitch enabled Nick Badgley to score from third to make it 4-2.
In the ninth, UIC took advantage of a pair of Huskie errors that allowed Kevin Coddington to reach base and later score to draw the Flames within one at 4-3. With two outs and the tying run at second, Andy Deain finished the game with a strikeout to preserve the victory.
Jernstad (1-4) posted his best outing of the season while earning his first victory of the year. The lefthander went 7.1 innings while allowing just four hits, two earned runs and two walks with three strikeouts. Dan Atkenson worked 1.1 innings without allowing a hit before Deain closed the door in the ninth.
Behm, who extended his career-long hitting streak to 10 games with his homer, led the Huskies with two RBI on the night. Dave Reynolds paced the offense with two hits and Hood contributed a single that ran his own hit streak to 10 games.
Chris Kovacevich (1-4) took the loss for UIC (22-16).
Meet The Flames The Flames wrapped 2009 with a 29-23, 17-6 record in the Horizon League for a first place finish. In 2010, UIC has a 12-20, 7-5 league mark and has won five of its last eight. The last series for the Flames started with an 8-7 win at Wright State Friday but ended with a Saturday doubleheader loss (14-3 | 14-10).
UIC has a .297 batting average, 231 runs, .480 slugging percentage, .385 on-base percentage, and 36 steals. The arms have a 9.16 ERA, giving up 321 runs on 412 hits and 139 walks with 150 strikeouts in 273.1 innings.
Chris Rutta is the cog of the Flame offense, hitting .345 (40-for-116) with 23 runs, 13 doubles, one triple, nine home runs, .707 slugging percentage, and .398 on-base percentage. While splitting time in the bullpen and as a starter, Michael Heesch (13 appearances, seven starts) leads the staff with a 4-4 mark, one save, and 5.20 ERA, allowing 37 runs on 62 hits and seven walks with 33 strikeouts in 53.2 innings.
Last Match-Up Against Iowa Northern Illinois raced out to a 5-2 lead and held on for a 5-4 victory March 26, 2008 at Iowa. The win improved the Huskies record to 9-11 on the season and 8-5 on the road.
The Huskies went ahead early when Dave Reynolds singled home Bobby Stevens, who had led off the game with a double off the left field fence, in the top of the first.
NIU took a 3-0 advantage in the third on a sacrifice fly by Jordin Hood that scored Pat Minogue and a bases-loaded walk that plated Stevens.
After a two-run double by Justin Toole drew Iowa within a run in the third, the Huskies scored twice in the fourth to make it 5-2.
Joe Etcheverry led off the inning with a double and eventually came in the score on a wild pitch and Jeff Thomas delivered a ringing hit to right center that scored Stevens.
Toole trimmed the Huskie lead back to one in the seventh with a RBI single.
Iowa threatened in the ninth, placing the tying run 90 feet away and the winning run at first before Andy Deain closed it out for his second save of the season.
Reynolds (2-0) notched his second victory in as many starts going 5.2 innings while scattering seven hits and three earned runs along with six strikeouts.
Starter Zach Kenyon (0-1) took the loss for the Hawkeyes (7-9).
Stevens scored three runs and Minogue collected three hits to pace the Huskie offense.
Meet The Hawkeyes The Hawkeyes went 16-35, 4-19 in Big Ten play last season for a 10th place finish. With a 13-19, 3-6 league record in 2010, Iowa won nine of its last 13 before getting swept at Indiana (4-1 | 4-3 (10) | 21-12) over the weekend.
Iowa owns a .282 batting average, 190 runs, .370 slugging percentage, .371 on-base percentage, and 56 steals. The pitchers have a 6.56 ERA, allowing 250 runs on 347 hits and 199 walks with 183 strikeouts in 271.2 innings.
Kurtis Muller paces the offense with a .349 average, 30 runs, seven doubles, two triples, 12 RBI, .450 slugging percentage, .450 on-base percentage, and 19 steals. With six saves, Kevin Lee (1-0) anchors the backend with a 9.35 ERA, allowing 11 runs on 16 hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 8.2 innings over 10 appearances.
Carry-Over Streak Dating back to the 2009 season, lefty Chuck Lukanen has a current streak of 14 consecutive starts, five last year and nine this year, with four or more strikeouts on the mound, compiling 88 Ks over 94.1 innings.
2010 Streaks Joe Etcheverry has a six-game hitting streak (7-for-22 | .318), in which he has five runs, four RBI, two home runs and one double. Dave Reynolds is on a five-gamer (7-for-19 | .368), totaling three runs, three RBI, two doubles, one triple and stolen base.
Jamison Wells has reached base safely in four consecutive games, while Alex Beckmann has reached in three straight, scoring a run in each.
Troy White has driven in one run in each of his last three contests.
Reliever Kyle Glancy has struck out at least one hitter in each of his last four outings, totaling six in five frames.
Chuck Lukanen has lasted at least six innings in his last five starts, averaging over seven frames per start.
National Leaders Through April 11 Jordin Hood has been hit by a pitch 14 times, which ranks 19th.
MAC Leaders Through April 19 Andy Deain’s six saves rank first.
Joe Etcheverry’s 28 walks rank second.
Cory Krupp and Jordin Hood’s 10 steals each rank in a tie for eighth.
Chuck Lukanen’s 59 innings pitched and Jeremy Gonzales’ 52.1 rank second and seventh, respectively, while they also rank second (54) and eighth (37) in strikeouts. Additionally, Gonzales’ .245 batting average against ranks fourth.
“The Ralph” Advantage Under Mathey, the Huskies are 86-53-1 at Ralph McKinzie Field, home of Huskie baseball, and a 7-5 win over Milwaukee March 24th, gave NIU its seventh win in its last eight openers. An 8-7 mark last season gave the Huskies their sixth above .500 season in their last seven at “The Ralph,” where they are 3-4 in 2010.
Illi-Noise NIU is 3-3 against Illinois foes this season with the most recent win being over Illinois State on the road April 6th, 11-4, marking the Huskies’ third straight win over an Illinois opponent. NIU also beat Bradley, 8-3, March 31st in the Braves’ home opener and defeated Southern Illinois, 13-9, March 20th in the finale of a three-game series. In eight seasons under head coach Ed Mathey, the Huskies are 54-27 versus intrastate opponents.
You Complete Me Southpaw Chuck Lukanen earned the win April 2nd by throwing his second complete game of his career and NIU’s first this season. He was also the last Huskie to complete a start, doing so in a 16-3 win at Central Michigan May 1st, 2009. Against the Buffalo, he scattered five hits, surrendering just one run and three walks with five strikeouts.
Jeremy Gonzales followed Lukanen’s complete game by going the distance, as well, April 3rd but wasn’t lucky enough to get the win as he was given his first loss. The teammates are the first since Trevor Feeney and Adam Holdenrid to put together back-to-back complete game efforts as the former Huskies both did it against Buffalo, too, respectively, in a doubleheader sweep on March, 22 two years ago. Gonzales’ season-long outing resulted in three runs on six hits and two walks with a season-best tying eight strikeouts.
Let’s Play More --- Same Time, Different Place Exactly two years ago to the day, the Huskies’ 9-8 loss in 11 innings to Austin Peay on Feb. 28 this season marked the first 11-plus inning game since a 16-inning 9-6 loss to Portland in 2008.
Home, Sweet Home With the trip to Bakersfield, Calif. over spring break from March 5-6, the Etcheverry brothers returned to their old stomping grounds. Joe was a four-year letterwinner for the Centennial High School baseball team in Bakersfield, while Ben was a two-year player before moving to Florida to finish his high school career at Lake Region High School in Winter Haven, Fla. As a senior, Joe earned Area Player of the Year and Southwest Yosemite League MVP, while Ben was named an all-state performer in his sophomore and final season at Centennial.
During the three-game NIU sweep over CSU Bakersfield, Joe Etcheverry recorded a hit in each game (4-for-9) with two runs and three RBI.
Gonzales also returned to his hometown, where he was a four-year letterwinner at South High School, and was named team captain and MVP in his senior season.
He started Game Two against CSU Bakersfield and had his best start of the year thus far, throwing seven innings of one-hit ball with seven strikeouts and two walks, and allowed no runs, to pick up his first win as a Huskie.
Additionally, California native Wes Shryock returned to his home state, as well, where he was a four-year letterwinner at Desert Christian High School in Lancaster, Calif., and was named first team all-conference and second team all-area in his final season.
He gathered his first hit of his NIU career in a pinch-hit at-bat against Cal Poly on March 9, and registered his first walk and stolen base as a Huskie against UC Santa Barbara on March 12.
Huskie Firsts Four Huskies notched their first hits in an NIU uniform in the season-opening Arizona State series. Cory Krupp got his in the season opener on Feb. 19, while the other three got theirs in the series finale on Feb. 21 as Ben Etcheverry, Tom Kotis and Brian Riegler each had a single. Jeremy Gonzales also made his first two appearances in a Huskie uniform on the mound on Feb. 19 and 20, and he had a stellar debut after compiling a 3.18 ERA in 5.2 innings while allowing two earned runs on three hits and six walks with four strikeouts.
In Krupp’s second game on Feb. 20, he notched his first run and walk, while he tallied his first RBI and steal on Feb. 27 against Austin Peay.
Hermsen knocked out his first home run of his career against CSU Bakersfield on March 5, and had three long-balls in the month of March, his first three of his career, which rank in a tie for second on the team.
Brett Frantini blasted his first career home run on March 6 against CSU Bakersfield and logged his first collegiate inning on the mound with a perfect sixth inning in the March 31st 8-3 win at Bradley, in which he notched his first strikeout, as well.
Jamison Wells gathered his first collegiate hit in Game One of the Southern Illinois doubleheader on March 20.
Kyle Glancy picked up his first collegiate win in relief by holding Milwaukee scoreless over 1.2 innings, surrendering only a hit March 24th.
Alex Beckmann notched his first career triple in the April 6th win at Illinois State.
DJ Hood Jordin Hood spent a significant amount of time last season scratching NIU’s records, and figures to do the same in 2010. In 2009, he was named to the All-MAC second team for the second time in his career, making him the sixth Huskie to be selected to an All-MAC team more than once. He set career-highs in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBI and steals, while he also finished the season ranked in the top ten in several categories of the NIU record book. His 76 hits rank in a tie for third on the single season all-time NIU list, while his junior campaign also ranks fifth in runs scored (57), eighth in RBI (46) and tied for 10th in homers (10).
Hood finished an outstanding 2009 with a .474 on-base percentage (sixth in MAC), 57 runs (tied for sixth in MAC), 76 hits (eighth in MAC), a .382 average (ninth in MAC), 14 steals (tied for ninth in MAC) and 125 total bases (10th in MAC). He also had 46 runs batted in, 15 doubles, two triples, 10 homeruns, 12 walks, a .628 slugging percentage, and was hit by 23 pitches (tied for third in nation). Additionally, he had 24 multiple-hit games and 13 multi-RBI contests, while he had a career-best hitting streak of 18 games from February 27 to March 27.
Hood entered the 2010 season ranked fourth in program history in hits (204), tied for fourth in home runs (23), tied for fifth in triples (7), sixth in RBI (118), seventh in at-bats (614), seventh in steals (37) and eighth in runs scored (127) and doubles (36).
He now holds the all-time hit-by-pitch record at NIU with 54, breaking former teammate Bobby Stevens’ (2006-08) record of 45. With his two hits win at Illinois State April 6th, Hood moved up to third all-time in career hits (234) at NIU, passing Rob Marconi (2001-04 | 233). He now has 240, just four shy of second place’s Pat Kerrigan (1999-2002). He also currently sits second all-time in home runs (29), in a tie for third in runs scored (155), fourth in RBI (140), at-bats (751) and triples (8), and fifth in doubles (43) and steals (47).
Leadership Council Ten Huskies have been selected by Mathey to formulate a “Leadership Council” this season with the purpose of having a weekly team discussion on various team building topics in order to help the program succeed. Every week each council member will read literature on a various team building topic and bring their thoughts to each week’s team meeting. The group is composed of five seniors, two juniors and three sophomores. The seniors are Andy Deain, Jordin Hood, Sam Kapacinskas, Dave Reynolds and Brian Smith. The juniors are Joe Etcheverry and Zach Oates. The sophomores are Alex Beckmann, Kyle Glancy and Troy White.
Master Mathey Head coach Ed Mathey entered his eighth season at NIU as the program’s all-time wins leader (198-225-1). With a 6-1 home win over Buffalo April 2nd, he earned his 400th win (403-396-3) of his 16-year career and sits two victories away from his 200th win at Northern Illinois. He also owns four of NIU’s five best single season win totals, including the top three spots (34 in 2003 | 34 in 2007 | 31 in 2004).
Additionally, throughout his career Mathey has coached 54 all-conference, 18 all-region and four All-American selections.
Pro Huskies NIU has hosted at least one game in a professional ball park in each season since 2005. The Huskies have played and won four games at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva, Ill., home of the Oakland Athletics’ Low-A affiliate Kane County Cougars. In 2008, NIU hosted No. 29 Notre Dame at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Ill., home of the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox. Despite losing 5-4, the Huskies and White Sox raised over $65,000 for the NIU February 14 Forward, Together Forward Scholarship Fund. Last season, NIU hosted Milwaukee at Road Ranger Stadium in Loves Park, Ill., home of the Northern League’s Rockford RiverHawks. Even though the Huskies lost 7-6, the game marked NIU’s first in the Rockford area and the first Division I baseball game at the stadium.
Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to Northwestern at Road Ranger Stadium marked the first of NIU’s three 2010 pro stadium games. After a one-year hiatus, NIU will make its return to Elfstrom Stadium with Tuesday’s game. Additionally, NIU will be hosted by Milwaukee at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, on Wednesday, May 12, as the Huskies and Panthers will start approximately 30 minutes after the Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves noon contest.
Huskie Pros At least one Huskie has signed a Major League Baseball contract in each of head coach Ed Mathey’s seven years at NIU. Overall, 21 NIU players have signed pro contracts under Mathey, and seven have been selected in the MLB Amateur Draft.
NIU Staying Classy The NIU baseball program has kept pace with the rest of NIU’s sports programs to help extend Huskie athletes’ streak of semesters with a combined cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better to nine. Through the fall of 2009, 12 players have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
Huskie Boomers Mathey’s 2010 signing class of 11 future Huskies is the largest of his seven-year tenure. The class, which is full of large, athletic frames of raw talent, is composed of eight players from the state of Illinois with one each from Arizona, Minnesota and Missouri. The group includes RHP Eli Anderson (Glenview, Ill./New Trier Township), LHP/OF Anthony Andres (Western Springs, Ill./St. Rita of Cascia), RHP/OF Bo Andrews (Roscoe, Ill./Harlem), C Joe Battaglia (Westchester, Ill./St. Joseph), IF Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic), IF Tom Keating (Chicago, Ill./St. Laurence), RHP/IF Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney), RHP/OF Trey Lange (Mesa, Ariz./Skyline), OF Jordan Rishavy (Rochester, Minn./John Marshall/North Iowa Area C.C.), RHP/IF Kevin Sweeney (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) and IF Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park, Ill./Victor J. Andrew).
Boys Of Summer A trio of Huskies earned all-star nods during the summer of 2009 as they were competing in various summer leagues. Hood represented the Quincy Gems, Jones represented the KC Bandits and Lukanen represented the Green Bay Bullfrogs.
Wells Rounded Being an exception athlete, Wells will not only be playing baseball for Northern Illinois, he will also be playing football for head coach Jerry Kill in the 2010 campaign. Wells was a three-year letterwinner at Kimberly High School in Combined Locks, Wis., earning two-way Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFC) first team all-state, two-way WFCA all-region, and 2008 WFCA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He was also named to the Associated Press’ 2008 Wisconsin all-state football team at both wide receiver and defensive back.
It’s All In The Family Zach Badgley is the fourth member of his family to take the mound for Northern Illinois, following Dan (1997-2001), Mark (2003-07) and Nick (2008-09). Since 1997, there has only been one season (2002) of NIU baseball without a Badgley family member.
Smitten With Smitty Sixth-year senior pitcher and Student Athlete Advisory Committee President Brian Smith is the younger brother of second-year assistant coach Jason Smith, who handles hitting and first base coaching duties for NIU. You can follow the Huskies all season long through Brian’s blog --- Can O’ Corn: Bloggin’ NIU Baseball With Pitcher Brian Smith (http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/10-m-basebl-blog.html).
As Brian mentions in his first entry, being brothers, he and Jason look pretty similar. The two have been mistaken for each other many, many times and he has issued a challenge for everyone to not get the two mixed up anymore. The two talk about this issue often and he will call you out in his blog if you do mess up.
This week’s Can O’ Corn highlight: Smith gave a recap of the Miami series and talked about Andy Deain’s obsession of winning arcade game prizes.
On Deck After the midweek games, the Huskies will travel to Toledo, Ohio for a three-game weekend Mid-American Conference series against the Toledo Rockets. Games will be at 2 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday, and noon Sunday as well.