The NIU Huskies (10-28-1, 6-9 MAC) topped the Mid-American Conference leaders Central Michigan (25-15, 12-3 MAC) on Easter Sunday, 3-1, thanks in part to a complete game effort on the mound by Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) and heads-up baseball by the Huskies, 3-1.
Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Ill./DeKalb) drove in the winning run in the bottom of the sixth as Justin Fletcher (Pekin, Ill./Illinois Central) stole second and third to set up the Sisler single. Fletcher setup the insurance run in the eighth as he advanced Tommy Hook (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township), who scored on a bloop single by senior Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill./Carmel Catholic).
“We executed for the entire game and obviously Alex helped out on the mound, but our defense really helped. We turned an absolutely huge double play in the sixth inning with a good guy running the line,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “We had a couple offensive situations that we took advantage of and that’s something we hadn’t gotten a lot of earlier this series.”
Hook finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and a run – a run created by a heads up slide off a hit and run situation. With Hook on the hop, Fletcher chopped the ball over the mound and straight at second base. With CMU shortstop Morgan Oliver charging over the bag and into a position to tag Hook, the sophomore right fielder slid to bag four feet away to avoid the tag and score on Divarco’s next single.
Northern Illinois got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning as Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wis./Madison Area TC) led the frame with a solo home run, towering the ball out of the park and onto the sidewalk behind Huskie Stadium.
The Chippewas tied the game in the top of the fourth inning as Adam Collins singled up the middle with two outs to score Tyler Huntey from first base.
On the mound, Klonowski scattered seven hits in the contest with four strikeouts and two walks. In the top of the sixth, Central Michigan loaded the bases with one out and Collins at the plate. On a 0-1 pitch, Klonowski forced a groundout to Sisler, who flipped the ball to Fletcher and helped turn a 6-4-3 double play and end the threat and rally NIU to the 2-1 lead in the bottom of the frame.
With the victory, Northern Illinois improved its Easter Sunday record to 7-4 under Mathey.
The Huskies will return to the diamond Wednesday afternoon, taking on UW-Milwaukee at Ralph McKinzie Field. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m. For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.