Starter Eli Anderson improves to 7-0 in MAC play
Junior pitchers Eli Anderson (Glenview/New Trier) and Kevin Sweeney (Chicago/Fenwick) combined for Northern Illinois second shutout of the season in Toledo as the Huskies (20-24, 14-5 MAC) defeated the Rockets (17-26, 8-11 MAC), 4-0.
Freshman Tommy Hook (Lockport/Lockport Township) finished 2-for-5 with three RBI and a triple.
“It was a good day, we moved Eli to Friday and he pitched very well short a day’s rest,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “Eli did a nice job of finding his strike zone and though he didn’t have his usual stuff, he did a good job of pitching himself out of any jams he wound up in. Kevin Sweeney came in and probably could have finished it off 1-2-3 had we not committed an error. But Kevin adjusted and kept the shutout for the team.”
The Huskies’ shutout was their second of the season, and the first since March 23 versus Kent State, 3-0, which also occurred with Anderson on the mound.
NIU struck first blood in the second inning when it went up 1-0 on a leadoff double by Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park/Andrew) and a sacrifice fly by Nate Ruzich (Joliet/South Suburban College). Zimmerman advanced to third on a passed ball to set up Ruzich’s sacrifice.
Another Huskie run was scratched across in the third with another leadoff double, this time by Connor Schomig (Darien/Hinsdale South). With one out on him, Hook accounted for his first RBI with a single to right centerfield to score Schomig from second, 2-0.
Anderson, pitching his first Friday game of the year after moving from the Saturday pitching role, continued to work through the game with the lead, scattering hits and letting the defense do work. The NIU defense played errorless baseball through eight innings.
Anderson ended the game with eight shutout innings with seven hits allowed, zero runs, one walk and three strikeouts for his eighth win of the season. Anderson is now 7-0 in the MAC with a 0.89 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 10 walks.
In the top of the ninth, Brian Sisler (DeKalb/DeKalb) led-off the stanza with a walk, where he stranded after two pop outs, including a failed sacrifice attempt. Senior Jamison Wells (Combined Locks/Kimberly) singled through the right side to put Sisler in scoring position with two outs. Hook then tripled to clear the bases and put the Huskies up 4-0, which setup Sweeney on the mound to finish the game.
Wells finished 2-for-5 at the plate with one run scored while Zimmerman finished 1-for-4 with a double and run scored to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. The combined shutout by the pitching staff was Northern Illinois’ first since a 1-0 win at Eastern Michigan April 27, 2012.
The Huskies and the Rockets will return to the diamond today with first pitch set for 12:05 p.m. Central. Freshman Jordan Ruckman (Kankakee/Herscher), the MAC West’s reigning Pitcher of the Week, will take the mound versus Cameron Palmer.