Northern Illinois opened the 2013 Dairy Queen Classic with aggression and smarts at the plate with eight hits and five walks to get runners on base versus Utah (5-3).
The Huskies (1-8) were unable to drive the runners home however as they left 11 men on base in a 6-1 loss to the Utes.
“The big difference in this ball game was execution offensively,” said head coach Ed Mathey.
“If you look at the stat line across the board, the hits were 10-8 (Utah), guys on base – probably about the same, but they got hits when they needed to. We’re putting guys on base, we’re just not executing to get those runs across – steak producers for our RBI guys.
“We left 11 runners on – bad news, good news – we got them on there, we just didn’t score them. I thought outside of a play or two by Ruck (Jordan Ruckman) on the mound, I thought our defense was pretty good. We need to continue to get guys on base and we need to get them home.”
The Huskies had a consistent presence on the base path as they accounted for at least one base runner in every inning of the game. NIU was able to get on base through eight hits and five walks but left 11 men on base during the ball game.
NIU combined for three hits in the fourth inning to rally some momentum to its side with successive hits by Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wis./Madison Area TC), Micah McCulloch (Rochelle/Rochelle Township) and Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney). However, the Huskies were unable to gather a run from the effort.
The seal was broken in the bottom of the fifth inning after a pair of leadoff walks by Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview/St. Laurence) and Jameson Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly). A pass ball put the runners in scoring position and Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park/Andrew) drove home Mallder from third on a fielder’s choice to cut the deficit to one run, 2-1.
Utah would add one run in each of the final five innings of play and increase its run total to six in the game. NIU attempted the late, ninth inning rally after hits by Wells and Sisler but was unable to bring each player around the bases and ended the game stranded on third and second, respectively, in the 6-1 loss.
Klonowski had an impressive day at the plate as he finished 3-for-4 in the game to lead both teams in hits during the game. Zimmerman had one RBI and Mallder had one run in the game to with two walks to his credit.
Northern Illinois will play its second game of the Dairy Queen Classic at noon Saturday, March 2, versus Dartmouth.