Northern Illinois baseball players Eli Anderson (Glenview, Ill./New Trier) and Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) were selected First Team All-Mid-American Conference Tuesday night, the first such honor for both players and the first for NIU since 2011.
Classmate Jeff Zimmerman (Tinley Park/Andrew) was selected to the second team as an at-large selection at first base. Anderson is the first first team All-MAC pitcher since Matt German in 2007 while Klonowski is the first NIU second baseman to be named first team. Zimmerman was a first team selection in 2011 en route to the MAC Freshman of the Year award.
“When you win baseball games, things like this are sure to follow. All three of these guys have had good seasons and its honor to be recognized,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “Eli’s had a heck of a season pitching, and we’re hoping he can continue that this week at the tournament. Alex has had a good season defensively at second base, along with at the plate, and Jeff has had a great season as well. It’s good to have him back on this list after getting freshman of the year. I’m happy for all three of these guys.”
Anderson, a junior, had one of the most remarkable seasons in program history in 2013, finishing the regular season 9-4 with a 2.01 earned run average and six complete games. In 107.1 innings pitched, he struck out 70 batters while only walking 25 with a 1.11 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched). In his nine MAC starts, Anderson finished with an 8-1 mark, six complete games, a 0.98 WHIP and a 1.17 ERA in 77.0 innings of a possible 81.0, all of which are the top-marks in the Mid-American Conference. He fanned 54 batters and walked 14 in his outings against conference foes.
Anderson tied the NIU program record for wins in a season with his ninth May 10 versus Eastern Michigan as the Huskies defeated the Eagles, 2-1. Impressively, he tossed four straight complete games from March 23 to April 13, including a complete game shutout against reigning College World Series participant Kent State in the conference opening series, 4-0, which started a streak of eight-consecutive wins. He was a selected as the MAC West Pitcher of the Week three times during the season. He will attempt to set the program record for wins in a season this week at the MAC Tournament.
Klonowski was one of Northern Illinois’ top-hitters in Mid-American Conference games, carrying a .325 batting average with four doubles, 18 RBIs, two sacrifice bunts, two sacrifice flies and a mere six strikeouts in 117 at-bats. In the field, he was one of the top-defenders in the conference with only two errors, 49 putouts and 56 assists, many of which were of the acrobatic variety. The junior finished the year with a .297 average with a team-leading 30 RBI and only 15 strikeouts in 209 at-bats. He currently sits No. 53 in the NCAA in the toughest to strikeout category.
Impressively, Klonowski hit safely in 22 of 27 games in the Mid-American Conference including a streak of eight-consecutive conference games with a hit. He also went 56 at-bats from April 13 to May 11 without striking out at the plate. Clutch hitting was also a strong suit of Klonowski’s during the season as he registered a walkoff single April 27 against Miami (Ohio) to lift the Huskies over the Redhawks, 5-4. Klonowski started 18 games at second base in MAC games, while also taking on pitching duties as NIU’s No. 3 starter.
Zimmerman, a junior from Tinley Park, Ill., was the only Huskie on the All-MAC second team, collecting his second all-conference honor of his career. For the season, Zimmerman carried a .333 average with 70 hits, 17 doubles, three triples, all career-highs, with 30 RBIs. His mark of 17 doubles is one shy of tying for sixth all-time in the NIU record book for doubles in a single season. His 70 hits are two shy of 10th the most in single season. During the conference season, Zimmerman led all Northern Illinois hitters at the plate with a .377 batting average and on-base percentage at .421.
Surpassing his teammate Klonowski, Zimmerman batted safely in 25 of 27 MAC games this year that included a 17-game hitting streak against Mid-American Conference pitching. He recorded three hits in a game five times in conference games, with 20 RBIs, 10 doubles and two triples to his credit. In his 54 starts this season he only committed three errors while in MAC contests he only made one. Through only three seasons with the Huskies, Zimmerman is only eight hits shy of becoming the ninth man in program history to hit 200 or more hits.
Jordin Hood was the last NIU second baseman to earn All-MAC honors as he earned second team distinction in 2007. While German was the last pitcher to earn first team All-MAC honors in 2007, Joe Piekarz was the last Northern Illinois starting pitcher to collect first team accolades, doing so in 2004.
The Huskies, the MAC’s No. 3 seed, will open the Mid-American Conference Tournament today as they take on No. 6 seed Bowling Green. First pitch is slated for 11:30 a.m. Central Time. Anderson will start on the bump for the Huskies while Klonowski will more than likely start at second base.