Northern Illinois closed its series against Kent State Sunday afternoon, coming back from 3-0 deficit to tie the Golden Flashes 3-3 in the top of the seventh. But Kent State scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning to defeat the Huskies, 5-3.
Junior Jordan Huffman was 3-for-4 at the plate with a double, a run and an RBI.
“Overall we played a lot better today. We took advantage of our opportunities when they presented themselves in the ball game,” said head coach Ed Mathey.
“It’s difficult to start conference 0-3 but Kent State showed why they are the defending MAC Champions and a regional finalist team. We saw some good signs from a few of our players and we’re looking forward to beginning our home stand this week.”
Senior Tony Manville hurled seven innings, surrendering four earned runs and striking out four batters.
Kent State scored a run in the first inning and two in the third to build its 3-0 lead, but Manville was steadfast on the mound in the fourth, fifth and sixth, allowing only three hits and stranding four Golden Flashes runners on base in those tilts.
Northern Illinois stormed back in the top of the sixth inning with two runs, setup by Huffman’s double and Alex Klonowski hit by a pitch.
With two outs, Alex Beckmann hit a ball to second basemen Derek Toadvine, who recorded an error and allowed Huffman to cross the plate. Troy White singled to score Klonowski and put the Huskies to within one, 3-2.
In the seventh inning, Joe Battaglia led the inning with a single and accounted for the game-tying run. Connor Schomig was sent in to pinch run for Battaglia and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Jamison Wells and scored from there on a single by Huffman to deadlock the game at three runs apiece.
Kent State loaded the bases and broke the tie on a Nick Hamilton single, followed by an insurance run on a Sawyer Polen sacrifice fly to Wells in centerfield. The Huskies were unable to get any runners on base in the eighth and ninth inning, falling 5-3 and ending their Mid-American Conference opening series, 0-3.
Northern Illinois (5-21, 0-3 MAC) will return to DeKalb for an eight-game home stand, beginning Tuesday afternoon with a showdown against UW-Milwaukee. First pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m.