The Northern Illinois baseball team (14-20) opened its 10th week of the season with a midweek contest with Bradley at Ralph McKinzie Field.
After seven innings of play, Bradley prevailed after 16 hits, winning 19-0. It was NIU’s first home loss this season.
“We lacked a sense of urgency today on the field. This is the second-straight midweek game we did not sustain an approach. I’m concerned about that and I don’t like it,” said head coach Ed Mathey.
“I don’t think the guys are ready to go for whatever reason (during the week). We need to look into that and figure it out, because when you start looking at our (play on the) weekends, you get into situations where the team plays Tuesdays and Wednesdays and we play two midweek games for the next two weeks. We’re going to need to sustain our weekend effort to accomplish our goals that we have in place.”
BU scored in six of the seven innings of play as freshman Justin Ruckman (Kankakee/Herscher) and junior Brody Justice (Frisco, Texas/Paris JC) combined for a scoreless third inning with Ruckman registering one strikeout in the frame. The Northern Illinois pitching staff combined for five strikeouts during the game, three by Ruckman.
Following the Braves scoreless inning, freshman Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview/St. Laurence) led the stanza with a double down the left field line to put NIU in scoring position. Classmate Johnny Zubek (Oak Forest/Oak Forest), making his first career start at catcher, recorded an infield single to advance Mallder to third. The Huskies were unable to bring any runs across and trailed 10-0 after three.
Northern Illinois would record three walks and two hits in the game, stranding six on base, to fall, 19-0. Following the game, Coach Mathey made a closing statement moving forward.
“If we qualify for the Mid-American Conference Tournament – and I say that because we haven’t done that yet – you play four, five or six games in the tournament and when you get in to that, you talk about guys who can pitch that for you, guys who can hit that for you, you talk about guys who can play back-to-back, and right now I’m concerned about that,” Mathey said.
“It’s not just new guys getting opportunities, it’s our veterans. We’re not doing things we’re supposed to do. We gave up seven in the first inning, but there’s still a lot of baseball to be played if you put some pressure on the other team offensively. We did not sustain that effort we saw last weekend.”
NIU will return to the diamond today for a midweek clash with Illinois-Chicago, beginning at 3:05 p.m. at Ralph McKinzie Field. Senior Jacob Goldenberg (Syracuse, Ind./Wabash Valley CC) will make his first career start on the bump for NIU.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.