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Baseball returns to diamond Tuesday

April 23, 2012
Jeff Zimmerman

Jeff Zimmerman

Northern Illinois baseball will play pair of midweek tilts when it hosts UW-Milwaukee Tuesday afternoon and heads to Peoria to take on Bradley Wednesday evening.

First pitch Tuesday is slated for 3:05 p.m., while the contest at Peoria’s O’Brien Field on Wednesday will start at 6 p.m.

The Huskies are coming off a three-game series with Toledo at Ralph McKinzie Field, where they found themselves neck-and-neck with the Rockets.

On Friday, NIU carried a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning but faltered late in the game and lost, 7-3.

On Sunday, the Huskies came back from a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the sixth and had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with one out for a chance at the walk-off win, but were unable to take advantage and fell in 10 innings, 4-3.

Jeff Zimmerman was one of the team’s most consistent hitters over the weekend, boasting a .545 batting average (7-for-11), with a double, an RBI, a walk and a run scored. The sophomore also added an on-base percentage of .667 over the weekend.

On Saturday, the NIU bullpen was nearly flawless as it finished the game, three innings pitched, allowing zero hits and zero runs in the Huskies 5-1 loss. Tony Manville hurled eight innings for Northern Illinois Sunday, surrendering five hits and fanning five, while walking only two.

Ed Mathey

Ed Mathey

Tuesday’s opponent, UW-Milwaukee, is no stranger to the Ralph, having played at Northern Illinois March 27 and losing to the Huskies, 5-4.

The Panthers are currently 16-20 and have won 10 of their last 15 games since they played at NIU. UWM is coming off a series sweep of Youngstown State, defeating the Penguins in a doubleheader on Saturday (3-2, 8-1) and once on Sunday afternoon (5-2). Michael Porcaro is the batting average leader at .329 this season, while Sam Koenig has been on a terror as of late with a 12-game hitting streak entering the contest.

The Braves are 20-16-1 this season, and like the Huskies, BU is set to play a midweek game as it hosts Iowa on Tuesday night.

Bradley was in action last weekend at Illinois State, dropping the series two games to one, but won the series-opener, 13-2, in seven innings. In Missouri Valley Conference play, Bradley is 5-7.

Max Murphy leads the Braves in batting average with a .351 clip, smashing eight home runs with a .626 slugging percentage. BU’s pitching staff is carrying a 4.89 ERA this season and has fanned 271 batters and only allowed 119 walks.

Following the midweek games, Northern Illinois will head to Ypsilanti, Mich. to take on Eastern Michigan, beginning at 4 p.m. CT Friday, April 27.

For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.