Northern Illinois hung on for a 2-1 victory Sunday, May 8, in the rubber match finale of a three-game Mid-American Conference West Division series against Eastern Michigan at Oestrike Stadium.
The Huskies improved to 24-22, 12-9 in MAC play, as the Eagles fell to 31-17, 13-8 (MAC).
The win came large in part because of Tony Manville’s (7-1) career outing.
The junior transfer from Iowa threw a career-high 8.1 innings, allowing one run on just three hits and three walks with four strikeouts. In the process, he picked up his team-high seventh win on the year in his first weekend start for the Huskies.
The seventh straight win for Manville was not a sure thing, however, until closer Kyle Glancy stranded Manville’s ninth-inning leadoff walk at third base to pick up his 10th save in 11 tries. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association midseason Stopper of the Year watch list member emphatically struck out Sam Ott looking to end the game, giving NIU its fifth MAC series win in its last six tries.
“We made the move to go to Kyle and he made a nice pitch to get their guy who got the game-winning hit yesterday,” said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. “Ott had a lot of hits on the weekend and is a dangerous hitter. Kyle executed his pitches and got him looking to end the game. He was very solid and threw the baseball well for us.”
On the other hand, EMU starter Corey Chaffins did not fare as well. The right-hander lasted only 4.1 innings as he gave up two earned runs on seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts, falling to 6-4 on the season.
Despite out-hitting the Eagles 11-3, NIU was only able to muster two runs, but it was enough to give the Huskies their 24th win in their last 36 games. The first run came in the first inning as Jamison Wells got it started. The sophomore leadoff hitter singled to third base, and then swiped second. After Krupp reached on a fielding error by Chaffins, Joe Etcheverry popped up, leaving Wells on third base. But Troy White picked up his teammate with an RBI single to center field.
NIU’s other run came in the fifth as a one-out single and stolen base by Alex Jones set up the frame. Etcheverry then came through this time with an RBI double down the right field line to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles managed to scratch a run in the sixth off Manville on a wild pitch with two out and runners on second and third after giving up a one-out walk and single. Combined with the two hits Manville gave up in the first inning, those were the only two frames in which the Eagles did much harm as the New Lenox, Ill., native retired the Eagles in order in each of the second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
Manville’s outing was a fitting end to a pitching-dominated series for NIU. In the three games against a team that entered with the nation’s longest winning streak and was hitting over .300, the Huskie staff posted a 1.37 ERA, allowing just five runs (four earned) on 14 hits and eight walks with 17 strikeouts in 26.1 innings. NIU also held the Eagles to a .156 batting average and gave up just three extra-base hits in the three games as the Huskies claimed a series against a MAC West first place team for the second time in three weekends.
“Tony was great today,” Mathey said. “He was very much up to the task. He has the talent and showed it today. (Pitching) coach (Ray) Napientek and his staff did a great job of executing their game plan all weekend.
“Tommy Barry arguably had the best outing (of the weekend) and ended up with a loss. When you go in there facing the team that’s tied for first in your division and pitch and hit and play defense like we did, you have to tip your hat to your pitchers and defense. They executed a nice game plan, and it was even in nice hitting weather. Our pitchers were just on top of the game. They were locating very well.”
With Central Michigan claiming its series over Toledo, the win for the Huskies moves them into third place in the MAC West as CMU jumps into first and UT and EMU fall into a tie for second. However, NIU holds important MAC Tournament seeding tie-breakers over EMU and UT due to series wins over both teams.
“What (the series win) does is it keeps you in the hunt for division title and better seeding at tournament,” Mathey said. “There’s still some shuffling that’s going to happen in the standings, but our job now is to go out and win. That’s all we can do. We want to continue to build on our momentum.”
NIU has most of this week off for final exams. The Huskies’ next series will be at home against Ball State. The games are slated for 3:05 p.m. Friday, May 13, 1:05 p.m. Saturday, May 14, and 1:05 p.m. Sunday, May 15.