Junior Taylor Nawrocki (Fairmont, Minn./Granada-Huntley-East Chain) pitched 8.1 scoreless innings for Northern Illinois (4-16) against in-state rival Illinois (9-7), leading the Huskies to a 3-0 victory at Rent One Park against the defending Big Ten Champions.
Senior Kyle Glancy (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park-River Forest) closed the game for his third save of the season.
“That was a good game of team baseball today. We pitched well, we hit well, we played good defense and we played selfless baseball,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “Taylor had his fastball today and great movement on his curveball and really took charge on the mound.”
Nawrocki, a transfer North Iowa Area Community College, pitched the Huskies longest outing of 2012, striking out and walking four. He allowed six hits, all of which were singles. The Northern Illinois defense played flawlessly behind the Fairmont, Minn. native as the unit committed zero errors.
The Huskies got on the board in the third inning when Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper) doubled to right field and advanced to third on a Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park, Ill./Victor J Andrew) ground out to second. He made the 90 foot trot to home plate when Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo.) singled to drive him home.
Northern Illinois added another in the following tilt when junior Jamison Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly) walked with two outs. Following his base on balls, the Huskies speedster stole second, and following an errant throw by the catcher, went to third base. With the pressure on the Illinois pitching and catching battery, Wells advanced home on a wild pitch to put the Huskies up, 2-0.
With Nawrocki continuing to stifle Illinois on the mound, the Huskies began to add insurance in the ninth inning with some old fashioned baseball. Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) walked to lead the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jones. After a wild pitch sent him to third, Zimmerman drove home White with a single to increase NIU’s lead, 3-0.
“Alex is swinging the bat as good as anybody right now and when Troy walked, there wasn’t even a doubt in his mind about laying down a bunt to sacrifice his at-bat,” Mathey said.
In the bottom of the ninth inning Nawrocki walked Illinois’ Willie Argo to lead the inning, but struck out Justin Parr for the first out. Brandon Hohl singled to left field following Parr’s strikeout, advancing Argo to third base. Glancy then entered for Nawrocki after the single and fanned Reid Roper for the second out of the inning.
With two outs, Jordan Parr stepped up as the Illini’s last-ditch effort at a comeback. Parr faltered when he popped up to second base and solidified the Huskies shutout. Illinois left six runners on-base in the contest.
It was NIU’s first shutout win since a 2-0 win over Miami (Ohio) April 10, 2011, when Jeremy Gonzales pitched a three-hit complete game shutout.
Northern Illinois will open its home season Tuesday, March 20, hosting UIC at Ralph McKinzie Field. First pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.