Trailing 9-1 after six innings to No. 18 St. John’s, the Northern Illinois baseball team sent the game to extra innings, scoring seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
However, NIU would fall 11-9 in the bottom of 10th on a walk off home run by SJU’s Matt Wessinger. Sophomore Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo.) was 3-for-6 at the plate with four RBI and a home run.
After four innings, NIU trailed SJU 2-0 and cut the lead in half in the top of the fifth inning, 2-1, as Joe Battaglia (Westchester, Ill./St. Joseph) scored on a throwing error after Jamison Wells (Combined Lock, Wis./Kimberly) singled and stole second base. St. John’s responded in the bottom half of the inning with six runs, including a grand slam by Zach Lauricella, to lift the Red Storm, 8-1.
The tables turned for the Huskies in the eighth inning as the team trailed 9-2. Jordan Rishavy (Rochester, Minn./North Iowa Area CC) led off the inning, getting hit by a pitch and Brett Frantini (Minooka, Ill.) reached base on an error to advance Rishavy. Freshman Micah McCulloch (Rochelle, Ill.), who entered the contest as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, singled to left field to drive in Rishavy and send Frantini to third, who scored on an error, and gave NIU life, down 9-4.
Trailing by five, sophomore Connor Schomig (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) walked and Klonowski followed with his three run homer to put Northern Illinois down by two runs, 9-7. Freshman pitcher Mike Grindstaff (Joliet, Ill./West), who entered in the seventh inning, held St John’s hitless and scoreless in the eighth inning to quell the Red Storm.
In the ninth, sophomores Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park, Ill./Victor J Andrew) and Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic) led the inning with singles. The two advanced to third and second, respectively, on a sacrifice bunt by Rishavy. Frantini followed and again reached on error to score Zimmerman and bring NIU to within one, 9-8. McCulloch again swung a heavy bat and doubled to right field to score Divarco and tie the ball game, 9-9.
Wessinger would strike for St. John’s with two outs and Pat Talbut on first base to lift the Red Storm, over the Huskies, 11-9. Northern Illinois is now 0-4 this spring. It was the Huskies first extra inning game of the season and the last since playing Eastern Michigan May 27, 2011 in the MAC Tournament.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.