Northern Illinois took on No. 11 Arizona State Friday afternoon and stood toe-to-toe with the Sun Devils through nine innings in a 3-3 pitching duel, but ASU’s Abe Ruiz hit a walkoff single to squeak by the Huskies, 4-3.
Senior Jake Hermsen (New London, Wis.) pitched 7.2 innings for NIU with eight strikeouts against the nationally ranked Sun Devils at Surprise Stadium.
Consistency was the message from head coach Ed Mathey after the game.
“Right now we’re finding out who we really are. We took advantage of our very few opportunities against a nationally ranked Arizona State and contended with them through an entire ball game. The biggest challenge is playing like this tomorrow. If we can find some consistency and play like this against St Mary’s and future opponents, we’re going to be alright.”
Hermsen entered the contest with a 0-2 record, an ERA of 19.06 and allowed 12 earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched.
The possessed pitcher from New London, Wis. battled 7.2 innings for Northern Illinois, a career-high, finding strikes to even the count throughout the ballgame that led to eight strikeouts and a mere three walks in 129 pitches. He allowed eight hits in the game, but allowed the errorless Huskies to play ball.
Following the game, Hermsen was named Northern Illinois’ Most Valuable Player as presented by the tournament officials.
Mathey added “If Jake Hermsen goes out and pitches like that every game, he’s going to get a lot of wins for us this year. We’ve seen this from Jake in sorts over the years and if he can find some consistency he’s going to be a real threat on the mound.”
Arizona State was the first on the board with one run in the bottom of the second inning, but NIU bounced back with two to take the lead in the top of the third, 2-1. Senior Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) was the man of the inning with his two-run RBI single, driving home Jordan Huffman (Sergaent Bluff, Iowa) and Jamison Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly) from second and third who reached on singles.
ASU tied it up in the bottom of the third and regained the lead with a solo homerun by Deven Marrero in the bottom of the fifth inning. Trailing 3-2, Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo.) tied the ball game with a two-out double to left field that scored White, who reached base after getting hit by a pitch.
With two outs for the Sun Devils in the bottom of the ninth inning, Joey DeMichele squeaked out an infield hit to reach first. The next batter, Ruiz, followed with the game-winning single that drove in DeMichele from first base to give 11th ranked Arizona State its seventh win of the season.
White led the team with two RBI in the game and finished 1-for-3 at the plate. The Huskies have lost all three of their contests versus nationally ranked teams by a combined four runs in 2012.
Northern Illinois will take on St. Mary’s (Calif.) at 5 p.m. today in the Huskies’ third game of the Coca Cola Classic.