The Northern Illinois baseball team (13-30-1) hit a season-high three home runs Tuesday and poured nine runs on the UIC Flames (18-19) at Curtis Granderson Stadium, but it wasn’t enough as the Flames defeated the Huskies, 10-9.
Klonowski led NIU in RBI and runs with three and two, respectively, while Landon Tenhagen (Burlington, Wisconsin/Madison Area TC) finished 3-for-5 at the plate.
In his second career start on the mound, freshman Andrew Frankenreider (Peoria, Illinois/Dunlap) tossed 4.0 innings, scattering three hits with three strikeouts and only one walk with two runs allowed.
“We’ve been a team with strong pitching and strong defense all year, but today we decided to be a hitting team,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “We hit the ball very well tonight but we couldn’t get outs when we needed them at crucial points during innings. Defensively, we just have to be better than what we showed today.”
Frankenreider started hot for NIU, going 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first inning to rally the Huskies in the top of the 2nd. Catcher Joe Battaglia (Westchester, Illinois/St. Joseph) took a fastball off the hip to give NIU its first baserunner in the frame, setting up the No. 9 hitter Gasser. On the first pitch of his at-bat, the freshman rode a high, inside pitch and hammered the ball over the wall in right centerfield to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
After a bunting groundout to the pitcher by leadoff man Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Illinois/DeKalb), the game was delayed due to lingering storms in the area in the middle of the second. Play resumed 52 minutes later, and the Huskies picked where they left off as Frankenreider retired Illinois-Chicago in order with two strikeouts.
With the rain picking back up in downtown Chicago in the top of the fourth, Klonowski hit NIU’s second home run of the game, driving a solo shot into the Huskie bullpen in left centerfield to extend the lead to three runs.
Wes Sery (Normal, Illinois/Bloomington West) followed the homer with a single and a stolen base to put a runner in scoring position. Sery would score with two outs from second as the second baseman committed a throwing error on a grounder from Gasser to put the Huskies up, 4-0.
The Flames would score two runs in the bottom of the frame on two hits to cut the Huskies lead in half, 4-2. A four-run top of the fifth increased the NIU lead to 8-2 as Klonowski hit a two-run single and Divarco nailed a two-run dinger back into the Huskie bullpen.
The Flames went on to score eight unanswered runs over the next two innings, including a seven-run sixth frame, to give the Flames a 10-8 lead. However, the Huskies brought it back to within one after Tommy Hook (Lockport, Illinois/Lockport Township) grounded out to first base with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth.
The Huskies will return to the field tonight when it hosts Northwestern at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood, home of the Frontier League’s Windy City Thunderbolts. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.