It was a hitters’ day at Ralph McKinzie Field with winds blowing out from home plate to cause havoc to players on the field.
Though Northern Illlinois (21-27, 15-8 MAC) took advantage of those opportunities, Eastern Michigan (23-26, 10-13 MAC) capitalized more to defeat the Huskies, 17-12. Joe Battaglia (Westchester/St. Joseph) was 2-for-2 with two RBI and run, including a pinch-hit home run.
“Conditions are conditions and it wasn’t easy out here but they’re fair for both teams and it’s about who takes advantage of it more than the other,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “We just got in to situation on the defensive side of the ball where we gave away free passes ahead of their big hits and you just can’t do that on day’s like today. Those mistakes get magnified. 12 runs can win a baseball game a lot of times, today just wasn’t one of those days.”
The Huskies drew first blood in the opening frame when Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park/Andrew) and Micah McCulloch (Rochelle/Rochelle Township) recorded RBI on a double and single, respectively, to push NIU ahead, 2-0. Eastern Michigan responded in the top of the second with four runs to take a 4-2 lead, including game-tying a two run homer by Mitchell McGeein.
NIU tied it up after the third when it scratched across a run apiece in the second and third innings.
The Huskies would take the lead in the fourth inning after a leadoff double by Brian Sisler (DeKalb/DeKalb), a hit by pitch on Jamison Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly) and an RBI double by Tommy Hook (Lockport/Lockport Township). Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) would hit a two RBI single to score Wells and Hook, 7-4.
Eastern Michigan regained the lead in following frame as it scored five runs on five hits in the frame to take a 9-7 lead. The Eagles tacked on five more in the sixth, including two home runs in the game to double their lead, 14-7.
The Huskies went to work in the eighth, attempting to mount a comeback and were able to come up with one run on a high-fly, pinch hit homer by Battaglia over left field to cut NIU’s deficit to six, 14-8. Though Eastern Michigan scored three more in the top of the ninth, the Huskies did not hang their heads as they continued to score runs and close the gap.
NIU pinch-hitters Chris Divarco (Long Grove/Carmel Catholic) and Brett Chappell (Rock Falls/Rock Falls) earned walks to lead off the inning. Connor Schomig (Darien/Hinsdale South) loaded the bases as he reached base on an infield error. After Danny Seiton (Batavia/Batavia) walked in a run, Battaglia singled to left center field to make it a 17-10 game.
Northern Illinois would add two more in the frame when Wells drove in one on a fielder’s choice and Hook drove in another on a hit-and-run error by the pitcher to make it 17-12, where the game ended.
NIU’s pitching staff held the Eagles scoreless in five of nine innings.