May 13, 2013
Midweek Notes: UWM (PDF) | @NIU_Baseball (Twitter)
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (21-28) vs. UW-MILWAUKEE (26-19)
Tuesday (G1): at UW-Milwaukee, 3 p.m. Audio | Gametracker | @NIUscores
Tuesday (G2): at UW-Milwaukee, TBA Audio | Gametracker | @NIUscores
NORTHERN ILLINOIS PROJECTED PITCHING ROTATION
Day/Pitcher Last Start
Tuesday: LHP Bobby Kuntzendorf (8-3) (ND at UIC 5/1) 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Tuesday: RHP Justin Ruckman (0-0) First career start
OPPONENTS PROJECTED PITCHING ROTATION
Day/Pitcher Last start
Tuesday: LHP Jake Tuttle (1-0) (W vs. Wisconsin Lutheran 5/13) 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
Tuesday: RHP Brian Keller (2-1) (W at Iowa 4/30) 9.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K
• NIU (15-9) is two games ahead of Ball State in the MAC West division race with three conference games remaining.
• The Huskies are looking for their first ever MAC West division championship, having finished second twice under Head Coach Ed Mathey (2004, 2008).
• This is the Huskies third doubleheader of the year and the first since March 9 at Southern Illinois.
NIU’S DOUBLEHEADER HISTORY THIS SEASON
The Huskies are 1-5 in doubleheader’s this season, last splitting February 23 at Nevada when NIU earned it’s first victory of the season, 12-4 over the Wolf Pack. On the road, Northern Illinois is 1-4 when it plays two with one loss on a neutral diamond. The Huskies lost to Northern Colorado February 17 at Texas Tech, 3-2.
A MIDWEEK BREAK
Northern Illinois did not play any midweek games last week as the university held final exams during the week, limiting any activity for teams in season. The Huskies last played midweek baseball April 30 and May 1 at Bradley and UIC, respectively, where they dropped their game to the Braves, 11-5, but scored a comeback victory in downtown Chicago against the Flames, 7-5.
A CHANCE TO BREAK EVEN
Due to thunderous and saturated spring conditions around the Midwest this spring, the Huskies have had a reletively light spring midweek schedule with only eight games played this season. NIU is 3-5 in midweek baseball in 2013 with wins over Murray Statem Milwaukee and UIC. Northern Illinois can even its overall season record with a sweep of the doubleheader.
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Freshman right hander Justin Ruckman will make his first career start this season in game two of the Huskies doubleheader with the Panthers. He’ll enter the start with with 15 appearances this season, 14.0 innings pitched and a 7.07 ERA. Justin’s twin brother, Jordan Ruckman, is the Huskies Saturday starter in the weekend rotation.
Junior Joe Battaglia pulled off an NIU first of 2013 Saturday against Eastern Michigan as he had a pinch-hit solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning. Towering one high into left field and putting it over the left field wall for his third homer of the season, tying for the team lead with Landon Tenhagen.
THE STAFF - THEN TO NOW
Though it’s nearly impossible to compare the present to the past when talking baseball, the Northern Illinois weekend rotation has posted incredible numbers this season, most notably in innings pitched and complete games. The Huskies have gone the distance eight times this season, the most for NIU since 2003, Ed Mathey’s first season with the program. The program record stands at an unbreakable 24 games in 1977, when contests were seven innings. By those parameters, starts of 7.0 innings or longer, the NIU pitching staff would have 21 complete games this season - nine by Eli Anderson, eight by Alex Klonowski and four by Jordan Ruckman.
KUNTZENDORF STARTING HIS FIFTH
Freshman Bobby Kuntzendorf is starting his fifth midweek game of 2013 in game one against the Panthers. The product of Yorkville, Ill. is 1-2 as a starter this year, earning his first career win against the Panthers April 3 in the Huskies home-opener at Ralph McKinzie Field. In his last start, Kuntzendorf earned a 4.0 inning no decision at UIC May 1 as NIU came back in the top of the eighth inning to extinguish the Flames, 7-5. In 24.2 innings pitched, he has only allowed his opponents to hit .250, tied for the second-lowest average on the team with Jordan Ruckman and just behind ace Eli Anderson.
AN UNPRECEDENTED ACCOMPLISHMENT
Northern Illinois centerfielder Jamison Wells became the first player in NIU baseball history to have three-consecutive seasons of 20-or-more stolen bases in the country. In fact, of the NCAA’s top-25 base stealer’s this season, only one player - Illinois State’s Chad Hinshaw - has accomplished that feat. Wells is ranked 59th in the NCAA in stolen bases this season with 20, second-most in the MAC.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS
UW-Milwaukee is 26-19 this season and clinched the 2013 Horizon League Championship last weekend with a sweep over Youngstown State to finish the conference season 14-7 mark. The Panthers will close their regular season tomorrow against the Huskies and will open the conference tournament May 22 at host Youngstown State as the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.
Michael Porcaro remains the bat to beat in the UWM lineup as he carried a .357 batting average into Tuesday’s series. He has 12 doubles, four triples and 37 RBI and runs to his credit to lead the team in all of the aforementioned statistical categories. Reliever Joshua Uhen has cleaned up his numbers to go along with 96 mile an hour fastball as he has a 3.18 ERA in 17.0 innings of work, along with four saves and two combined shutouts. Game two’s starting pitcher Brian Keller in his first ever collegiate start at Iowa April 30 hurled a complete game as UWM defeated the Hawkeyes, 10-3.
The Huskies will head to Muncie, Ind. for their final regular season series at Ball State May 16-18. Northern Illinois and the Cardinals will hash it for the Mid-American Conference West division championship. NIU has never won the MAC West, while BSU last won it in 2009.
The Last Meeting
April 3, 2013