Northern Illinois closed day one of the Brooks Wallace Memorial Tournament 0-2, falling to No. 18 St. John’s 11-9 in 10 innings and 8-5 against Texas Tech. The Huskies were without several key players who fell ill earlier in the trip.
“Today we battled hard with a lineup that we never envisioned or imagined, but I’m very proud of the guys on this team. We saw some really good things today,” said NIU coach Ed Mathey after the Texas Tech game. “We called some of the guys numbers today and when the opportunity presented itself, they rose to occasion.”
45 minutes after the Huskies 10-inning 11-9 heartbreaker against the Red Storm, NIU bounced back to play Texas Tech and found itself in a 7-0 hole after four innings. After a series of hits, walks and errors in the top of the fifth, the Huskies broke the seal as Jamison Wells singled and drove NIU’s first run, 7-1.
The Huskies took advantage of TTU in the top of the sixth inning and scored four runs on two hits, two sacrifices, one walk, a balk and one error to close the gap, 7-5, in favor of the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech added one run in the bottom of the eighth to increase the lead 8-5. NIU flirted with another last-inning rally as the Red Raiders walked leadoff batters Joe Battaglia and Jordan Rishavy (Rochester, Minn./North Iowa Area CC). A wild pitch advanced Richavy to second, but Battaglia was caught stealing at third base by the catcher.
Huskies Wells and Alex Beckmann were unable to extend the rally and Northern Illinois would fall 8-5 in game one of the series with Texas Tech and to 0-5 this season.
The NIU pitching staff combined for 10 strikeouts, including six from Jake Hermsen in four innings of work. The Huskies bullpen, made up of Jacob Goldenberg, Zach Badgley and Ben Etcheverry, combined for four innings on the hill and only allowed three hits, three walks and one run.
Wells extended his hitting streak to 19-games and sits by himself outright at No. 3 all-time in the NIU annals. He is one game shy of Dave Reynolds (2007-10) 20-game hitting streak, recorded in 2009.
GAME ONE RECAP
LUBBOCK, Texas - Trailing 9-1 after six innings to No. 18 St. John's, the Northern Illinois baseball team sent the game to extra innings, scoring seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings. However, NIU would fall 11-9 in the bottom of 10th on a walk off home run by SJU's Matt Wessinger. Sophomore Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo.) was 3-for-6 at the plate with four RBI and a home run.
After four innings, NIU trailed SJU 2-0 and cut the lead in half in the top of the fifth inning, 2-1, as Joe Battaglia scored on a throwing error after Jamison Wells singled and stole second base. St. John's responded in the bottom half of the inning with six runs, including a grand slam by Zach Lauricella, to lift the Red Storm, 8-1.
The tables turned for the Huskies in the eighth inning as the team trailed 9-2. Jordan Rishavy led off the inning, getting hit by a pitch and Brett Frantini reached base on an error to advance Rishavy. Freshman Micah McCulloch, who entered the contest as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, singled to left field to drive in Rishavy and send Frantini to third, who scored on an error, and gave NIU life, down 9-4.
Trailing by five, sophomore Connor Schomig walked and Klonowski followed with his three run homer to put Northern Illinois down by two runs, 9-7. Freshman pitcher Mike Grindstaff, who entered in the seventh inning, held St John's hitless and scoreless in the eighth inning to quell the Red Storm.
In the ninth, sophomores Jeff Zimmerman and Chris Divarco led the inning with singles. The two advanced to third and second, respectively, on a sacrifice bunt by Rishavy. Frantini followed and again reached on error to score Zimmerman and bring NIU to within one, 9-8. McCulloch again swung a heavy bat and doubled to right field to score Divarco and tie the ball game, 9-9.
Wessinger would strike for St. John's with two outs and Pat Talbut on first base to lift the Red Storm, over the Huskies, 11-9. Northern Illinois is now 0-4 this spring. It was the Huskies first extra inning game of the season and the last since playing Eastern Michigan May 27, 2011 in the MAC Tournament.