Senior Tom Barry (Orland Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) worked 7.1 innings for the Huskies against Southern Illinois Friday, including perfect three innings to start the game, but the Salukis posted three runs in the eighth inning to defeat Northern Illinois, 6-4.
“Tommy was phenomenal for us on the mound today, we just couldn’t get more runs for him to help him out,” said head coach Ed Mathey. ” He was dinged for three in the fourth inning, but he did a good job limiting the runs after that, giving us a chance to win.”
Junior Jamison Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Piper) caught SIU off guard in the first inning, bunting back to the mound and using his speed to reach base, where he quickly stole second base. Senior Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper) drove Wells home on a double to the right side of the field to give the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.
Barry would start the game with some razzle-dazzle of his own as he pitched three perfect innings to start the game, including three-consecutive strikeouts He ended the first inning with a strikeout and fanned the first-two batters in the second. The Orland Park, Ill., native retired the first 10 batters of the game before surrendering a walk in the fourth and a single one batter later.
The walk and the hit allowed by Barry would prove costly as Austin Montgomery doubled to drive both runners home and gave the Salukis a 2-1 lead. They would add one more run in the inning following two singles to gain a 3-1 edge. Barry was not shaken by the runs as he continued to thrive in the contest and blanked the Salukis for the next three innings, only allowing two hits and a walk in that time.
In the sixth inning NIU rallied back as leadoff batter junior Jordan Huffman (Sergaent Bluff, Iowa) walked and advanced to third on an error by pitcher Cameron Maldonado. Sophomore Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park, Ill./Victor J Andrew) reached base on balls and was soon driven home on a three-bagger by Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo.) to give the sophomore his ninth and 10th RBI of the season and tie the ball game, 3-3.
Continuing their impressive run in the sixth, senior Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) gave the Huskies the lead with one out, as White hit a deep fly ball to right field, sacrificing to drive Klonowski home, putting NIU up, 4-3. In the eighth, Jones hit a leadoff double and Zimmerman walked, but the Huskies were unable to tack on the insurance runs and stranded them on base.
“The eighth inning was a turning point for us in the game. I always say baseball is a game of momentum and SIU felt pretty good after leaving two of our runners on base. They came out swinging and that was a big difference in the game today,” recalled Mathey.
With Barry still on the mound, Southern Illinois would load the bases on two hits, a walk, and tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Nick Johnson, 4-4. Klonowski came in to pitch following the sacrifice and the next batter Jordan Sivertsen would break open the game with a double to score the game’s final runs, 6-4.
Freshman Ben Neumann (Verona, Wis.) would close the inning on the mound, forcing a fly for the second out of the inning and senior catcher Brett Frantini (Minooka, Ill.) would throw out his eighth runner of the season to end the eighth.
Jones was 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and an RBI, while Klonowski led the Huskies in runs driven in with two on his sixth inning triple.
The Huskies will play its first doubleheader since Feb. 25 (No. 18 St. John’s, Texas Tech) tomorrow as they take on Illinois (11 a.m.) and Southern Illinois (2:30 p.m.). Both games will be at SIU’s Abe Martin field.