With both teams trading blows throughout the game and tied 7-7 in the top of the ninth inning, senior Troy White drove in the game-winning run with his third sacrifice fly of the game to lift Northern Illinois over Miami (Ohio), 8-7.
Taylor Nawrocki pitched eight innings, striking out four with only two walks in 115 pitches thrown (81 strikes).
“We had a presence out there today and I really think it started with Taylor Nawrocki,” said head coach Ed Mathey.
“He gave up some runs but I thought he had a presence and a pace on the ball. He kept going back to work and he competed. Offensively I saw a lot of good situational hitting with our bunting and sacrifice situations.”
Jamison Wells led off the contest with a hard, hit ball over the left fielders head that ricocheted off the wall for a standup double. The junior then advanced to third on a wild pitch and was driven home when Jordan Huffman grounded out to the shortstop. MU tied the game in the bottom of the first with an RBI single, 1-1.
After a scoreless second tilt, NIU strung together three-straight singles, two of which were teetering bunts down the third baseline by Jordan Rishavy and Wells. Huffman would collect his second RBI of the day on a walk to give NIU a 2-1 lead, followed by a sacrifice fly by White down the right field to score Rishavy and increase the Huskies lead, 3-1.
Nawrocki worked with precision and accuracy as he retired the next three batters in succession, throwing eight pitches, six of which were strikes. Miami scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on four hits to give the Redhawks a 5-3 advantage. However, NIU added four runs on five hits to reclaim the lead, 7-5.
With the game tied at five runs a piece and two outs in the inning, Alex Klonowski muscled a ball high and hard over the left field wall to give Northern Illinois a 7-5 lead with his second homerun of the year. The Redhawks tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with two runs at 7-7.
In the top of the ninth inning, Alex Jones reached second base on an error by the left fielder to put the Huskies in scoring position, setting up White for the game-winning sacrifice fly.
With Jones advancing to third base on a wild pitch, White hit a deep fly ball to right field that curled into foul territory. Right fielder Bryce Redeker caught the second out of the game but was unable to make a play at home plate as Jones scored when the ball reached the cutoff man.
With the lead secured, Kyle Glancy stepped onto the mound to close the contest. With confidence as his ally, Glancy struck out two batters looking and forced the other out on a fly out to third base. It was his sixth save of the season and his first in Mid-American Conference play.
Northern Illinois will look to clinch the series Saturday afternoon against the Redhawks, with Jake Hermsen (2-3) on the mound for the Huskies. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.