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BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

Falcons pull off weekend sweep of Northern Illinois

The March Ohio weather cooperated, the pitching staff was superb and the offense was timely this weekend for the Falcon baseball team.

All of those factors allowed BG to open its 2008 Mid-American Conference schedule with a sweep over Northern Illinois, as they won 3-2 Friday, 4-3 Saturday and 4-1 yesterday.

After Friday and Saturday’s closely fought games, which BG won to claim its second series victory this season, coach Danny Schmitz knew his team would be eager for another tight win.

‘You get two, you get hungry, and you want to go after three,’ Schmitz said. ‘Northern’s going to be ready, but we have to come back with the same approach and be ready to go also.’

The BG pitching staff was clearly ready to go from the start of the series.

Each Falcon starting pitcher delivered at least five strong innings in all three games to shut down a Huskie offense that ranked first in MAC games going into the weekend.

The Huskies left Steller Field on their bus with zero victories on six total runs and 15 hits.

‘Their pitchers did a nice job this weekend,’ said NIU coach Ed Mathey. ‘They’re throwing strikes, working ahead in the counts, and they’re changing speeds. There’s no secret to that-they’re just executing.’

There has been a marked change in the Falcons in March. They began the month 0-4 in Florida, but with their first opening MAC series sweep since 2003, they close it out on a 5-0 run.

To win 10 of their last 11 games, a team effort by the Falcons was certainly required, but one part of the team in particular has been exceptional.

‘The pitchers are really understanding coach Rick Blanc now,’ Schmitz said, referring to his first-year pitching assistant. ‘Give him credit because the kids are starting to buy into his philosophy.’

Schmitz noted, in particular, the pitching staff’s aggressiveness lately. A large majority of the Northern batters fell behind in the count early on in at-bats this weekend.

It started with Frank Berry’s complete game performance in which he allowed two runs on four hits in nine innings during Friday’s series opener.

Kevin Light and Charles Wooten combined for a similar performance on Saturday. Light allowed one earned run in five and two-thirds innings, while Wooten came in to shut down the Huskies for his first-career win.

‘I was hitting my spots with my fastball really nicely, and my two-seamer was working inside and outside. I didn’t throw my change up very much, but the fastball movement kept hitters off-balance,’ Wooten said, declaring that his first freshman victory came at an especially good time-he turned 19 years old yesterday.

Also coming of age this weekend has been the top and bottom of BG’s line up.

Ryan Shay, the lead-off hitter, and T.J. Blanton, the ninth batter, combined for eight hits and seven of the Falcons’ 11 total weekend runs against NIU.

‘I’ve been seeing the ball a lot better and I’ve had a lot more focus. I’ve been working hard in batting practice where, if I hit a pop-up, I have to do ten push-ups,’ Blanton said. His recent streak also includes a home-run in last Wednesday’s win over Findlay.

Blanton, Schmitz, Wooten and the rest of the team are certainly happy with their current turnaround heading into tomorrow’s non-conference game at Youngstown State.

‘We looked at those first half-dozen games in Florida as exhibition games,’ Schmitz said, ‘But now it’s time to start kicking it into gear, and the leadership is really taking over. They’ve worked very, very hard and they have a lot of pride. It’s showing right now.’

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