Baseball takes two games in N. Illinois

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Sophomore Infielder Mitchell Schneider takes a swing in a game earlier this season against Youngstown State. Schneider had one at bat against NIU.

Zane Miller and Zane Miller

The Falcons baseball team won two out of three games over the weekend against the Northern Illinois Huskies, falling in the first game on Friday 11-0 before sweeping a Saturday doubleheader, winning 7-4 in the first game and again in the second game 9-1 for the team’s first Mid-American Conference series win of the season.

“We’re back at .500 now, so that gets us back in the hunt a little bit,” Falcons Head Coach Danny Schmitz said. “After losing the first game on Friday, being 1-3 (in the conference) and not playing very well, for the boys to respond and come back and get the big doubleheader win on the road, it’s huge.”

In the first game, Northern Illinois began with a two-run first inning, scoring on a throwing error and RBI single to jump out to the early lead. Their lead was extended in the fourth when another throwing error sent a run across and a solo home run in the fifth allowed Northern Illinois to take a 4-0 lead. The Northern Illinois offense then exploded in the sixth for six runs on an RBI single, a two RBI single, a sacrifice fly and a fielding error to take a 10-0 lead. Northern Illinois tacked on another run with an RBI double in the eighth for an 11-0 victory.

“We did not play well,” Schmitz said. “(Pitcher) Tyler Anderson deserved better, we made some mistakes right away in the first inning and cost us a couple of runs. Basically, Anderson went five-plus innings and only really gave up one run. We didn’t play well offensively or defensively.”

Rain anticipated for Sunday forced a doubleheader Saturday. The first game of the doubleheader started off like the first game with Northern Illinois getting an early lead, this time on a solo homer, RBI single and RBI sacrifice fly for a 3-0 first inning advantage. However, the Falcons fought back beginning with an RBI groundout by sophomore catcher Jeff Scott. Scott came back again in the sixth with an RBI single to bring the game to within one, then freshman outfielder Jake Wilson took the lead for the Falcons with a two RBI single. The team added to their lead in the eighth as sophomore infielder Riley Minorik hit an RBI single and Wilson struck again with another two RBI single to give the Falcons a 7-3 lead. Northern Illinois would get one run back in the ninth on an RBI groundout, but it would not be enough as the Falcons took the 7-4 victory.

“We got off to a rocky start there in the first inning,” Schmitz said. “We haven’t had many come from behind victories, so that was nice to see… The guys really did some nice things offensively, really did some great team things and started making some hard outs.”

The doubleheader’s second game also started with Northern Illinois drawing first blood, getting an RBI groundout in the first to take a 1-0 advantage. However, the Falcons would soon tie it up on a solo homer from senior infielder Greg Basalyga in the second inning. The offense caught fire for the Falcons in the fourth, with six runs scoring on three consecutive two RBI hits from junior infielder Derek Drewes with a single, senior infielder Nick Glanzman with a double and Wilson with a single for a 7-1 lead. Neither team scored again until the ninth when junior catcher Justin Mott hit an RBI sacrifice bunt and Scott hit an RBI single to put the game out of reach and secure the 9-1 victory and the series win.

“For most of the year, we’ve had two of the three phases, the pitching and the defense, but the hitting has not been there,” Schmitz said. “The kids really responded extremely well today and I give them credit. They played with energy, they played with passion and they were a blue collar team today. That’s what we’ve got to be.”

The team will next play on Wednesday afternoon on the road against the Michigan Wolverines.