For the first time since April 26, 2005, a Northern Illinois baseball game ended in a tie, as the Huskies (0-6-1) drew with New Mexico (3-3-1) at Lobo Baseball Field, 3-3. NIU stranded 14 runners on base, while UNM left 11.
The game was called due to time limit as NIU had to catch its flight back to Chicago. The Huskies’ last tie was an 8-8, 12 inning affair versus Purdue North Central at Ralph McKinzie Field. It was the Huskies second tie under head coach Ed Mathey.
Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview, Ill./St. Laurence) and Joe Battaglia (Westchester, Ill./St. Joseph) each finished with two hits in the game, while Micah McCulloch (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle Township), Justin Fletcher (Pekin, Ill./Illinois Central) and Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wis./Madison Area Tech) each had an RBI.
What started out as a game that would feature countless fireworks, turned out to be a game of defensive ins and outs as the two teams combed the diamond to prevent any runs crossing home plate after the second inning. Through nine innings, Northern Illinois and New Mexico only committed an error apiece.
The Huskies started off the game with two runs as Tommy Hook (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) walked on four-straight pitches to leadoff the game. He quickly advanced to third on two-straight groundouts to set up an RBI for McCulloch, who hit a ground-rule double to left field to give NIU its first run of the game. After a single by Mallder pushed McCulloch to third, Tenhagen singled through the right side to make give NIU a 2-0 advantage.
New Mexico responded with three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take 3-2 lead. However, NIU tied the game in the top of the second inning after two-straight leadoff hits and forced UNM to call on its bullpen after only an inning. A double by Battaglia and single by Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) put runners on first and second. A sacrifice bunt by Hook pushed runners to second and third which setup an RBI groundout by Fletcher to tie the game, 3-3.
NIU had its opportunities throughout the game to break the tie but were unable to drive across the run it needed as it left 11 men on base through nine innings.
In the top of the 10th inning, the Huskies had the upper hand as they loaded the bases with two outs on a Battaglia walk, a Sisler single and an error on the Lobo pitcher trying to cover first base on a high chopper by Hook. However, the Huskies were unable to score as Fletcher popped up to right field.
UNM would earn a leadoff walk and after a successful sacrifice bunt, push the runner to second. Relief pitcher Anthony Andres (Western Spring, Ill./St. Rita), who already hurled 2.1 innings, threw his second intentional walk to put the force out at third.
Ben Neumann (Verona, Wis./Verona Area) stepped onto the mound and immediately earned the second out as Chris Devito popped out to right field, pushing the runners to second and third. The runners were of no matter during the next at bat as Neumman forced a groundout to third base to end the inning.
Starting pitcher Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) threw seven innings of work, scattering eight hits and two strikeouts while only allowing two walks. Of Andres three walks in the game, two were intentional. He fanned two Lobos batters in the game. Neumann finished the game for NIU, tossing 0.2 innings in seven pitches.
NIU will return to action Friday, February 28 for a three-game set at Southern Illinois. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 2 p.m.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.