Northern Illinois’ Eli Anderson (Glenview/New Trier) pitched his third-consecutive complete game Saturday at Central Michigan (12-17, 3-5 MAC), striking out six and walking three in the Huskies (10-18, 5-3 MAC) 7-2 triumph.
Anderson is now 4-3 this season after his 120 pitch, 78 strike performance (.650 strike ratio). It is the most complete games by an NIU hurler since 2008 Detroit Tigers draftee Trevor Feeney’s three in 2008.
“Eli pitched another outstanding game for us today and our defense did a nice job behind him with no errors,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “If we make a better play on a bunt in the first inning, we’re looking at only allowing one run today, maybe even a shutout with the way momentum works. Strikes were at a premium for Eli and he did a nice job of pounding the zone to get ahead in the count.”
The Huskies played with fire in their bellies Saturday as they scored one run in the top of first inning after Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) singled to centerfield to drive home Jamison Wells (Combined Lock, Wis./Kimberly) from second base, who drew a leadoff walk and stolen base. Central Michigan tied it up in the bottom of the first with two hits, 1-1.
NIU took the lead in the third inning and never looked back as Tommy Hook (Lockport/Lockport Township) singled to left field to leadoff the frame. The freshman advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and after he stole third base, went home on a throwing error by the second baseman to make it 2-1.
The Huskies cushioned their lead with four runs in the fifth inning on four hits and one error by Central Michigan to give NIU a 6-1 lead. With Anderson holding the Chippewas in the previous innings, the fifth was no different as the Huskie walked the second batter with one out and then forced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Huskies scratched across one more run in the top of the eighth but the Chips were able to counter with one to make it a 7-2 game after the stanza.
“Our guys took good approaches today and we had a few hits with two strikes on us. Nate Ruzich had an 11 pitch at-bat in the sixth and that’s what we were looking for as a staff. They did a good job of making the pitchers work the zone and not chasing anything outside it.”
Anderson made short work of CMU in the ninth inning, retiring the side in order to complete his third-straight start of the season. In his last three outings, all against Mid-American Conference foes, Anderson has struck out 20 and walked six with 19 hits allowed, only three for extra bases. He sports a 1.00 earned run average in that time, thanks in large part to 16.0 scoreless innings in starts versus Kent State (March 23) and at Akron (March 30).
With his third-straight complete game, Anderson joins former NIU pitcher Joe Piekarz (2003-04) to pitch three-consecutive complete games (April 23-May 7, 2004). Like Anderson’s, Piekarz’ came in Mid-American Conference play.
Six different Huskies drove in a run during the game, including Hook, Klonowski and Micah McCulloch (Rochelle/Rochelle Township), who each led NIU with two hits apiece.