Northern Illinois and Western Michigan combined for 30 hits and 22 runs at historic Robert J. Bobb Stadium at Hyames Field, and though both were at a premium, the Huskies fell to Broncos, 13-9.
“We were really good at the plate today and we showed what we are capable of, but the real difference in today’s game was that second inning,” said head coach Ed Mathey, “we had about seven non-plays that resulted in runs for them. Eli came in for Rock in the second on the mound and did an awesome job for us, keeping our bullpen fresh for the rest of the games in the series.”
The Huskies set slugfest tone in the first inning when Jamison Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly) drew a walk to leadoff. The MAC’s leader in stolen bases occupied the pitcher by forcing him to throw over to first base more than he threw to batters Jordan Huffman (Sergaent Bluff, Iowa) and Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper) at the plate.
Following Huffman’s called third strike, Jones doubled down the right field line to score Wells from first and record his 19th double of the season and 30th RBI.
Troy White (Chicago/Whitney Young) followed with the Huskies second double of the game and advanced to third on a throwing error, allowing Jones to score and give NIU a 2-0 lead. Northern Illinois scored its final run of the inning on a Klonowski single to score Zimmerman. Western Michigan strung three hits together in the bottom of the first and tied the game 3-3.
Following five runs by the Broncos in the bottom of the second inning, Eli Anderson (Glenview, Ill./New Trier) entered the game for the Huskies and ended the inning three batters and two runs later to give WMU a 10-3 lead. NIU cut the deficit in half with two runs in the top of the third on a pair of doubles by Zimmerman and Klonowski and trailed, 10-5 at the middle of the third.
NIU went scoreless in the fourth inning but scored in the top of the fifth and six innings, adding one on Jordan Rishavy’s (Rochester, Minn./John Marshall) sacrifice fly to center field and another on a Klonowski single to make it a 13-7 game.
White singled in the top of the ninth and Zimmerman followed with a deep fly ball over the right centerfield fence to bring the Huskies back to within four runs, 13-9. Zimmerman has now cranked three homeruns in his last five games for the Huskies and has six in 2012 and 17 in his career, two of tying for No. 10 all-time in program history.
Anderson finished the game with 6.1 innings pitched, fanning five while not allowing a walk. The Glenview, Ill. native also scattered six hits and three runs in the ball game. As a team the Huskies hit six doubles, two each by White and Zimmerman. NIU outhit WMU, 16-14.
The Huskies (14-35, 7-15 MAC) return to action Saturday afternoon against Western Michigan (21-25, 11-10 MAC) with the first pitch set for noon.