Falcon baseball drops home series to the Huskies

Justin Onslow and Justin Onslow

Missed opportunities have plagued the BG baseball team this season. The Falcons (7-11-1) got some strong pitching over the weekend, but dropped two of three to Northern Illinois at home to open Mid-American Conference play.

Head coach Danny Schmitz emphasized base running and fielding after the double-header Saturday.

“Our defense has to play better,” Schmitz said. “We just give away too many runs.”

The Falcons committed nine errors on the weekend and also gave up a total of nine unearned runs in the series. Schmitz was unhappy with his team’s poor execution in the field.

“You keep giving the opposition more than three outs an inning, you’re asking for trouble,” Schmitz said. “We can’t do that. We just can’t do it anymore.”

BG continued to put runs on the board this weekend, but missed some key opportunities to close out games in later innings. The final game of the series went 11 innings. The Falcons stranded four runners in extra innings and committed two errors in Northern Illinois’ three-run 11th.

The Falcons got strong pitching throughout the series­­– something the team has been searching for this season. Seven BG pitchers combine for only seven earned runs in the series, including a six-inning, five-hit performance from freshman Michael Frank in the Falcon’s lone win of the series. Junior Charles Wooten added three perfect innings for his second save of the year.

Game 1: Northern Illinois 6, BG 5

Northern Illinois drew first blood with two unearned runs in the first inning. BG evened the score in the second inning when senior T.J. Blanton was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. With two outs and the bases still loaded, senior Mark Galvin scored on a wild pitch. The Falcons added a third run in the next inning, but surrendered three runs in the fourth. BG chipped into the lead scoring two runs on three Husky errors in the fourth, but never managed to re-take the lead.

Sophomore shortstop John Berti and senior third baseman Derek Spencer each went two-for-four at the plate for the Falcons. Berti is third on the team in batting average this year, hitting .403. He also leads the team in stolen bases with 12.

Sophomore Ross Gerdeman took the tough-luck loss for the Falcons. He pitched three innings and allowed only one earned run. Brennan Smith was the starter for the Falcons, allowing five runs in six innings– none of them earned.

Game 2: BG 7, Northern Illinois 2

For the second straight game, BG got two very strong outings from its pitchers. Freshman Michael Frank got the nod and pitched six good innings, allowing one earned run on five hits. Junior Charles Wooten went three perfect innings and sealed the win for the Falcons.

BG took advantage of two big innings, scoring all seven of its runs in the fifth and eighth innings. In the fifth, the Falcons strung together several hits and executed well. Freshman Matthew Pitzulo bunted his way aboard on a sacrifice attempt, loading the bases for senior Dennis Vaughn. Vaughn singled to center, plating BG’s first two runs of the inning.

The Falcons added four insurance runs on six hits in the bottom of the eighth en route to their seventh win of the year and first MAC victory. Chuck Lukanen (1-5) was tagged for six runs and nine hits for the Huskies and was credited with the loss.

Game 3: Northern Illinois 8, BG 5

The Falcons played small ball and took advantage of a Husky error to tie the game at five in the ninth inning, but could not manage to close the game out in extra innings. BG scored four runs in the first inning, but stranded 15 runners in the game, and did not take advantage of some key opportunities.

The Falcons nearly mounted a comeback in the eleventh when a Northern Illinois error, a walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases with only one out. John Berti hit a hard shot down the first-base line, but the liner was caught and T.J. Blanton was doubled up to end the game.

Right fielder Mark Galvin was the Falcons’ leading hitter going three-for-six with an RBI. T.J. Blanton, Ryan Schlater and Dennis Vaughn added an RBI each for the Falcons.

Freshman Patrick O’Brien allowed three runs (two earned) in three innings of work and was tagged with the loss. Andy Deain got the win for the Huskies.

BG will head to Dayton Tuesday to take on the Flyers at 3 p.m. The Falcons will then travel north for a three-game set against Eastern Michigan beginning Friday at 3 p.m.