Northern Illinois opened its Mid-American Conference baseball season Friday afternoon at Kent State, accounting for the six runs and eight hits, but the Golden Flashes were too much for the Huskies and defeated NIU, 12-6.
Alex Klonowski batted an outstanding 4-for-5 today with a double, an RBI and two runs.
“We just didn’t do what we normally do on the mound today,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “We gave them too many free passes, in walks and stolen bases. It’s tough to win in the Mid-American Conference giving up 12 runs.
“Offensively, I’m pleased with our performance. We took it to the MAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year (Baseball America) and scored five runs on him. If we keep swinging the bat like that, we’re going to be alright. Alex Klonowski is seeing the ball well and we look forward to seeing what he does the rest of the series.”
Wild pitches by Kent State led to runs for the Huskies in the second inning.
Sophomore Jeff Zimmerman doubled off the center field wall to lead the inning and found himself at third base a few pitches later with Klonowski at the plate. Klonowski singled up the middle to drive home Zimmerman and give the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.
Troy White hit a ball back to the pitcher and reached first on a fielder’s choice, however, White made up for the Klonowski out as he stole second base with Brett Frantini at the plate. Frantini would strike out, but the ball sailed past catcher David Lyon and White scored from second to give NIU its 2-0 lead.
Kent State rattled off two runs in the third inning to tie the contest, but the Huskies ran free in the fourth scoring three runs to go up 5-2 on KSU. Back-to-back doubles by Klonowski and White scored one run and Micah McCulloch’s laser to first base allowed White to score and McCulloch to reach on error. Jamison Wells drove in McCulloch on a grounder to shortstop after the freshman advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Rishavy.
The Golden Flashes would score nine runs in the next four innings, including five in the fifth to bring their tally to 12 runs. Northern Illinois was able to tack on one run in the eighth inning on a Frantini sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Klonowski who reached on single.
Northern Illinois (5-17, 0-1 MAC) is now 5-5 in conference openers under Mathey. Kent State’s starting pitcher David Starn pitched seven innings and fanned 11 NIU batters.
The Huskies and the Golden Flashes (9-10, 1-0 MAC) go back at it again at noon today.