Against arguably the top Major League League Baseball pitching prospect in the Mid-American Conference – Jordan Foley – the NIU Huskies (9-27-1, 5-8 MAC) outhit Central Michigan (25-14, 11-2 MAC), 7-6, but fell one run short as Northern Illinois dropped game one of the series, 3-2.
NIU starting pitcher Anthony Andres (Western Springs, Ill./St. Rita) threw 143 pitches with 87 strikes in 7.0 innings and combined with Foley for 278 pitches thrown by starting pitchers today.
“This was a good college baseball game, we had a chance to tie it in the bottom of the ninth and had runners in scoring position in five of the last six innings but (Central Michigan’s) Friday guy was up to the task,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “Overall, I’m disappointed with the loss but our effort was pretty solid. We had some opportunities today. You hate to pin it on one play in the game but if we make a play on bunt in the first inning, this game is a lot different.”
Andres tied his career-high in innings pitched with 7.0, even starting the eighth stanza, and set a new high in pitches thrown at 143. The senior scattered six hits, allowing one earned run with two strikeouts and four walks. Relievers Matt Williams (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) and Ben Neumann (Verona, Wis./Verona Area) closed the game for NIU and did not surrender a hit in the last two innings.
Leadoff hitter Connor Schomig (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) reached base three times in five plate appearances, going 1-for-4 with a run and two stolen bases to his credit. Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) finished 1-for-4 with a single and a run.
The Chippewas got on the board in the top of the first inning with two outs on the board, started by a bunt from Adam Collins back to the mound which Andres was unable to collect as the runners on first and second advanced 90 feet and loaded the bases. A single up the middle by Alex Borglin scratched the runs across and put the Chippewas up after the top of the inning, 2-0.
After Central Michigan scored one in the top of the fourth inning to triple its lead, 3-0, NIU got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first on back-to-back singles by Klonowski and Brandon Mallder (Bridgeview, Ill./St. Laurence). With Klonowski on third and one out, freshman Carl Russell (Grayslake, Ill./Grayslake North) grounded to second base to break the shutout, 3-1.
Northern Illinois cut the gap to one run in the bottom of the fifth as Schomig bunted with one out and was safe after an errant throw by the catcher to first base, which pushed Schomig to second. On the next at-bat, Tommy Hook (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) singled through the left side and after a fumbled collection by the left fielder, Schomig scored and advanced Hook to second. Two-straight groundouts ended the Huskie attack however but were within one run, 3-2.
Following the fifth, the Huskies had runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings on Foley.
In NIU’s last chance, Joe Battaglia (Westchester, Ill./St. Joseph) took the first pitch in the ninth long and out of Ralph McKinzie Field but the ball was out of the field of play before it could reach the 314 feet marker down the left field line. With one NIU out, Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wis./Madison Area TC) lasered a ball down the left line and hustled his way to second base to bring the winning run to the plate.
Pinch-hitter Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic) took strong cuts on Foley as he fouled off three pitches, including one down line. The senior popped up to centerfield but it was too shallow to tag, keeping the tying run on second. Foley would then record his fifth strikeout for the final out of the game on high 93 mile an hour fastball on his 135th pitch to seal game one for CMU, 3-2.
The Huskies and Chippewas will resume the series today with first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. Eli Anderson (1-5) will face Pat Kaminska (6-1) on the mound. NIU President Doug Baker will throw out the first pitch.