A seven-run second inning sparked Northern Illinois to a 20-5 win Tuesday afternoon over Chicago State at Ralph McKinzie Field.
The Huskies had trailed 3-2 entering the second, but the deficit didn’t last long. Tom Kotis started the frame with a bunt single and stole second. Alex Jones reached on an error to move Kotis to third, and he was driven home by an Alex Beckmann sacrifice fly on the next play. Following Jones scoring on a wild pitch and a Troy White walk, Joe Etcheverry launched an RBI double to right-center and Jeff Zimmerman backed it up with an RBI single.
After Jordan Rishavy drew a walk, Jake Hermsen blasted an RBI double to left. Brett Frantini kept the rally going with a walk. An out later, Jones reached again on a two-error play at first base that allowed two runs to score.
With a 9-3 lead, the Huskies added six runs in the fourth and five in the sixth to put the game out of reach and bring the ten run rule into effect after the top of the seventh, as the team’s agreed upon the ruling prior to the game.
The beneficiary of the offensive support was NIU starter Tony Manville, who earned his second (2-1) win as a Huskie. The junior allowed three earned runs on six hits and one walk with two strikeouts in five innings of work. After experiencing control issues in his first two starts (13 walks), the right-hander has found his groove in his last two starts, allowing two total walks and winning both times. He has also had 10 strikeouts in 11 innings during the stretch.
“I thought Tony Manville did a nice job,” said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. “He was doing what we’ve asked him to do. He had been struggling with his command and we wanted him to throw more strikes. He did well with that today. All in all, it was a good day today.”
On the other side of the ledger was CSU starter Caleb Fialka. In falling to 0-1 on the season, the righty surrendered eight runs (six earned) on four hits and six walks in 1.1 innings.
Walks were a primary reason for the Huskies scoring a season-best 20 runs on only 15 hits. NIU drew 14 walks, the most since drawing 13 against Chicago State on May 15, 2007. Adding to their offensive highs, the Huskies also posted a season-best five doubles and two home runs.
“We took advantage of a lot of walks,” said Mathey. “You need to. You need to show zone discipline. You can’t be chasing pitches out of the zone. Our kids did what they needed to do offensively today and it was nice to see.”
Alex Klonowski came off the bench to lead the Huskies by going 2-for-3 with four RBI, two runs scored and hit his first collegiate home run in his first at-bat of the game in the fourth inning. The two-run blast went well over the left field fence, as did fellow freshman Connor Schomig’s first collegiate longball in the sixth, a solo shot. Klonowski also added a two-run single in the sixth.
Adding to the success of the NIU freshmen on the day, Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored.
Along with Klonowski and Zimmerman, five other Huskies achieved multiple hits. Beckmann went 2-for-4 with two RBI and runs scored and a walk. White went 2-for-2 with a walk, steal and two runs. Etcheverry went 2-for-3 with a walk, run and RBI. Hermsen went 2-for-2 with two RBI and runs and a walk. Kotis went 2-for-3 with two RBI and runs and stole a base.
The Huskies get right back to action at 3:05 p.m. today to end a five-game home stand against Aurora.