The Huskies are 5-10 in MAC play this season and are 3-3 (.500) in their last six conference contests.
With midweek games being dominated by non-conference opponents, the Huskies have experimented with their lineup as of late and have given starts to sophomores Joe Battaglia at catcher and Connor Schomig in the outfield to rest up some of the upper classmen.
The two Huskies are a combined 5-for-11 (.454) at the plate in the last two games with a double, a run, an RBI and a stolen base. Head coach Ed Mathey has been quick to highlight the performances by both players over the last couple of games.
“I’m proud of those guys that haven’t been out there consistently. Connor and Joe have stepped up at different points and made plays. They’ve done a nice job for us as of late.”
The Huskies are returning to conference play after two midweek games, one in DeKalb on Tuesday versus UW-Milwaukee and another Wednesday evening at Bradley. Northern Illinois finished 0-2 in that stretch but Coach Mathey expressed the team’s focus for the remainder of the season.
“Our key focus right now is MAC play and that’s what I told the guys after the (Bradley) game. We did a lot of good things (against Bradley), not enough to get the win but there’s definite progress. Our focus from here on out though is the MAC and preparing for that. I’m not discounting our desire to go out and win those midweek games, but our Mid-American Conference games are crucial for us and we still have a few weeks ahead of us to win some games.”
Eastern Michigan is currently 18-21 in 2012 and 9-6 in conference play, winning two of its last three series by defeating Central Michigan and Western Michigan. Last weekend, the Eagles fell to Ball State in the series, winning game two but losing games one and three.
Batters Ben Magsig and Brent Ohrman have had successful seasons at the plate as they are batting .352 and .351, respectively. Magsig has provided the power with a team-leading four homeruns and 11 doubles and has drawn 35 walks, while Ohrman leads the teams in triples (4) and RBI (29). On the mound the Eagles have relied on a multitude of pitchers with Neil Butara carrying a 3-3 record and an ERA of 3.86. Steve Weber leads the team in strikeouts and wins with 48 and four, respectively.
In the last three series, the Huskies are 4-5 against the Eagles and won last years series in Ypsilanti, Mich., two games to one. Northern Illinois took game one and game three of last year’s series, winning by 4-3 and 2-1 scores, respectively.
Following the weekend series at EMU, the Huskies will return to action for its showdown at Elfstrom Stadium against Northwestern, home of the Kansas City Royals Low-A affiliate Kane County Cougars. The May 1 contest will begin at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.