Despite a biting wind and cold, the Northern Illinois baseball team (4-17-1, 2-3 MAC) accounted for 10 hits and nine runs versus Bowling Green (6-16, 0-4 MAC) in the series opener at Grand Park. With solid defense and pitching to compliment the hitting, NIU held BG scoreless for the Falcons first shutout of the season, 9-0,
Anthony Andres (Western Springs, Ill./St. Rita), Dirk Ormsby (Ligonier, Ind./Kellogg Community College) and Jordan Ruckman (Kankakee, Ill./Herscher) combined for the Huskies second shutout of the season. Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview, Ill./St. Laurence) reached base in all five plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with a double, four RBI, a run and three walks from the sixth spot in the batting order.
“I thought Anthony, Dirk and Justin did a nice job of keeping the shutout against a team who’s capable of putting the bat on the ball and scoring some runs,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “Any time you get a shutout its a good thing. “Offensively, it was nice to get those hits with guys in scoring position. It was good to see Micah and Brandon driving in runs today from the middle of the lineup as well.”
The Huskies got it started early with two runs in the top of the first inning as NIU recorded two hits in the frame to stake claim on the lead, 2-0.
With one out, Tommy Hook (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) earned a full count walk and quickly went to third on a double by Justin Fletcher (Pekin, Ill./Illinois Central). After a rare strikeout by Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) for the second out, Micah McCulloch (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle Township) — who made his first appearance since March 11 at No. 8 Cal Poly — hit a two RBI single through the left side to put NIU on top, 2-0.
In the third inning, Northern Illinois added three more runs to extend its lead, 5-0, as Mallder ripped a double past the right fielder with the bases loaded and two men down. A fielding error with Hook at the plate, followed by Fletcher taking a ball off his hands and a single by Klonowski, set Mallder up for his base clearing hit.
The hit by Mallder forced Bowling Green to its bullpen only 2.2 innings into the game as Cody Apthorpe surrendered the five runs on five hits with a two walks. Falcon reliever Devin Daugherty reeled BGSU back into the game as he posted five scoreless innings in the contest.
Bowling Green attempted to break its scoring duck in the fifth inning as it sent six batters to the plate and put runners on second and third with two outs. Andres and the NIU defense held the Falcons at bay and blanked BG on groundout to shortstop Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) to keep the shutout alive.
After five scoreless innings and the temperatures dropping, the Huskies bats awoke in the ninth inning and got to Daugherty as he loaded the bases with McCulloch at the plate. A sacrifice fly by McCulloch would signal the end for Daugherty, who made way for Chris Miller with Mallder at the plate. Mallder recorded his final hit of the day as he singled through the right side for a single run to score and put the Huskies up by seven, 7-0.
Jason Gasser (Dyer, Ind./Mt. Carmel) capped the Huskies offensive night at the plate as he lasered a ball down the left field line and into the warning track around the bullpen to drive in two runs and put the Huskies up, 9-0.
Ruckman sealed NIU’s second shutout of the season with a perfect ninth inning. It was the first time all season that Bowling Green was held scoreless this season. Andres six inning performance tied his career-high in distance but set a new high in pitches thrown at 122 with 68 strikes. He scattered five hits in the contest en route to his second combined shutout of the season. In two innings of work in relief for Andres, Ormsby only allowed one hit.
McCulloch, who finished 1-for-4 in the contest, posted a new career-high in RBI with three in contest while Mallder and Gasser also set a new individual highs in runs driven in with four and two, respectively. Both Hook and Fletcher scored three runs, tying their career-highs.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.