RENO, Nev. – Northern Illinois earned its first win of the season in game two of its doubleheader at Nevada, led by a five run seventh inning and 19 total hits to defeat the Wolf Pack for the first time in program history, 12-4. The 19 hits are most by NIU since hitting 17 at Illinois-Chicago May 2, 2012. The Huskies fell in game one, 13-0.
The morning’s contest in Reno started respectably as the Huskies trailed 3-0 after five innings of play. The Wolf Pack would combine for five runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings to finish the game, 13-0.
"The first game was disappointing because it started out a very good game and we just did not finish the way we started," said Head Coach Ed Mathey, "We didn't capitalize on our chances and Nevada just kept piling it on."
After a stern talk from Mathey in the club house between games, the Huskies started the contest with resolve as they scored three runs after a sextet hits in the opening frame. Micah McCulloch, Alex Klonowski and Tommy Hook all drove in an RBI in the opening frame.
"We told the guys that they needed to come out and compete and make plays," said Mathey, "I told them we don't need to be the most talented team but we need to make baseball plays - that's what baseball players do."
Starting pitcher Eli Anderson posted zeros on the Wolf Pack’s line score through the first four innings and surrendered a run in the fifth and sixth innings before Anthony Andres stepped onto the mound to close the inning. Anderson earned the win, surrendering a mere four hits with three strikeouts, two earned runs and two walks. It was the second win of his career as a starting pitcher.
"Eli set the tone for the game, pitching with conviction and challenging the Nevada hitters. He tired a little bit at the end but that didn't take away from how he pitched," added Mathey
In the seventh, Northern Illinois unleashed a fury of hits, six, to score five runs – the most by the Huskies since the top of the ninth inning at Southern Illinois March 17, 2012. Nate Ruzich and Jameson Wells singled to reach base and were driven home by Brian Sisler’s three run home run over the left field fence to make it a 6-2 game.
It did not end there as Jeff Zimmerman and Landon Tenhagen hit back-to-back doubles to score one. An RBI single by Klonowski made it 8-2 to close the scoring rally in the seventh.
"The hitters were the story of the day but I was really happy that we continued to hit the ball after Brian's home run. That five run inning really showed us what we are capable of. The biggest challenge now is to have a repeat performance of and take it to them to earn the series split," closed the skipper.
Northern Illinois would tack on one more run in the eighth inning and three more in the ninth to close the win, 12-4. Nevada accounted for its final two runs in the eighth inning. The win by NIU was the program’s first in February since an 11-10 victory at Mississippi State in 2009.
Tenhagen finished 4-for-6 at the plate with three RBI while Sisler finished with a game-high four RBI and three hits in five at bats. Batters one through eight each recorded a hit in the game with the top four batters combining 13-for-22 (.591).
The Huskies will close the series with the Wolf Pack tomorrow afternoon to attempt the series split. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. Central.