The Northern Illinois baseball team will prepare for a pair of midweek tilts as it hosts Northwestern at Elfstrom Stadium Tuesday night and another on Wednesday evening when it plays at Illinois-Chicago.
It will be the Huskies’ sixth contest at Elfstrom, home of the Kansas City Royals Low-A affiliate Kane County Cougars.
“Kane County has been wonderful to us and has allowed us to host a game out there annually, weather permitting of course,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “This year we have a great, local opponent in Northwestern and we’re hoping for a nice turn out for the game. It’s a wonderful venue and we’ve had some success there so we hope that both of those things continue.”
Huskie fans who are unable to attend the game against the Wildcats will be able to watch a live video stream of the game free of charge on Huskies All-Access courtesy of NIUHuskies.com.
All-time the Huskies are 5-0 at Elfstrom Stadium, defeating Northwestern twice (2005, 2006), UIC twice (2008, 2010) and Eastern Illinois (2007).
The Huskies (13-30) are coming off their second road MAC series of the season, defeating Eastern Michigan Friday afternoon in a 1-0 pitching dual led by Taylor Nawrocki’s eight-inning, two hit and seven strikeout performance and grinding out a 3-1 victory Sunday. Closing pitcher Kyle Glancy loaded the bases in the ninth with two outs and forced a groundout to second baseman Alex Klonowski to earn his 10th save of the season and NIU’s seventh conference win of the season.
While pitching was certainly the strength over the weekend, the sticks of Northern Illinois were clutch as well, striking when opportunity came knocking.
Jamison Wells knocked in one RBI and aided in the winning run against the Eagles Sunday as EMU committed an error on a Wells bunt to score Joe Battagliafrom third. Battaglia, earning only his 12th and 13th starts of the season at Eastern Michigan batted 3-for-6 at the bottom of the Huskies lineup, hustling out a double and scoring two runs on Sunday.
Northwestern sits 14-26 in 2012 and is 5-13 in Big Ten Conference play thus far.
Last weekend the Wildcats hosted Illinois and dropped all three games in the series. Geoff Rowan has been the model of consistency in the batting order with his .331 average and team leading 40 hits this season. Jack Havey has been the muscle with his five home runs and 24 RBI. On the mound Michael Jahns leads the corp in middle relief duty with 25.2 innings in 11 appearances and a team low ERA of 1.75.
The Huskies are no stranger to UIC as the two met March 20 in the Huskies home opener, an 8-6 triumph by the Huskies. The Flames are 16-23 this season and just shy of .500 in the Horizon League at 9-10 after being swept by Youngstown State last weekend. Alex Grunenwald is currently batting .338 for the Flames with 22 RBI, two home runs, two triples and eight doubles. Jon Ryan ;ears the team in RBI at 26, while Ryan Boss leads in rounders at six.
Huskies Tom Barry and Eli Anderson will step onto the mound for NIU on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Barry made his first start in over month last Tuesday after sustaining injury in late March, tossing four innings striking out three and surrendering seven hits and two earned runs. Anderson pitched last Wednesday at Bradley and hurled a career-high seven innings and struck out seven, also a career high.
Coach Mathey expressed the importance of the week.
“For us, it’s important that we keep some momentum going during the week after the weekend we had at EMU. We need to continue to progress as a team and get ready for the all important weekend series with Central Michigan.”
Northern Illinois will host MAC West Division foe Central Michigan this weekend May 4-6. The Chippewas are currently third in the MAC West division standing while the Huskies rest in fifth.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.