After surrendering five runs in the bottom of the eight inning to trail UIC, 7-3, Northern Illinois (2-15-1) plated five runs in the top of the ninth inning to put out the Flames (4-10), 8-7.
Senior Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wis./Madison Area Tech) hit a three-run homer — his first of the season — to lift the Huskies to victory as he finished 2-for-5 with three RBI.
“We had good hitting throughout the game today, putting guys in scoring position with the exception of the third and eighth innings,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “We didn’t do enough to separate the game early and UIC broke out its long game in the eighth to take the lead. Our goal was to get the tying run to the plate and see what happens, and Landon delivered with a home run to score the winning run.”
The Huskies got on the board first, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth inning as Justin Fletcher (Pekin, Ill./Illinois Central), Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) and Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview, Ill./St. Laurence) drove in a run apiece to put Northern Illinois on top, 3-0. Fletcher doubled to score the first run of the game as Klonowski and Mallder singled to drive in the other two.
UIC countered with run in the bottom of the sixth inning as Jake Nath led the inning off with a solo home run to left center on a 2-2 pitch from Jordan Ruckman (Kankakee, Ill./Herscher).
Junior Ben Neumann (Verona, Wis./Verona Area), who entered the game with two runners on and the game tied, 3-3, loaded the bases after hitting one batter and only gave up one hit in the affair as Tyler Detmer hit a grand slam home run to left field to lift the Flames over NIU, 7-3.
With nothing to lose in the ninth inning, Carl Russell (Grayslake, Ill./Grayslake North) and Fletcher singled to start the frame. Russell would advance to third on a fielder’s choice by Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) to bring the first out of the frame. Klonowski would record his second RBI single of the day to close the deficit to three runs, 7-4.
After a strikeout by Mallder gave NIU its second out of the rally, senior Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic) extended the inning and pushed a run across to boot as the Flames shortstop committed an error to put runners on first and second with Northern Illinois trailing, 7-5.
Tenhagen made short work of pitcher Alex Posey as he belted an 0-1 pitch down the left field line to give the Huskies the lead back and secure his first homer of the season, 8-7. Neumann would end the bottom of the ninth inning with nine pitches and force three-straight ground balls to secure his first career win in his 43rd career appearance.
Fletcher and Klonowski led the Huskies at the plate, both recording three hits. Fletcher had an RBI and a run while Klonowski drove in two runs with a run and a sacrifice hit to his credit. Sisler and Tenhagen also recorded multiple hits as they accounted for two each.
Starting pitcher Anthony Andres (Western Springs, Ill./St. Rita) was perfect in his two innings on the mound, retiring the UIC lineup in order in the first two frames. Tommy Hook (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) had one hit and two walks in his second start behind the plate, while throwing out two runners trying to steal base.
The Huskies will open the Mid-American Conference season Friday evening, opening conference play versus Buffalo at Chicago State. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Central.