MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Starting pitcher Eli Anderson pitched his second quality start of the season for Northern Illinois versus Dartmouth at the Dairy Queen Classic Saturday afternoon, but a solo homerun by the Big Green in the bottom of the seventh defeated the Huskies, 1-0. Anderson struck out six batters while only walking two batters, both in the first inning.
“Eli was outstanding today, he gave the team a great chance to win this game and as a starting pitcher that’s your goal and he did that versus Dartmouth,” said Head Coach Ed Mathey. “He did a good job of mixing up his pitches and his command was pretty good for the most part of today. When he did wander, he righted himself enough to get out of jams and end the innings in those instances. To lose on a solo home run, that’s baseball. You have to give Dartmouth’s hitter a lot of credit in that instance – he did a good job of staying alive on a full count.”
Both Northern Illinois and Dartmouth battled on the mound in the game, only allowing two hits apiece through six innings of play.
Northern Illinois began to put the barrel on the ball in the sixth inning when Dartmouth relief pitcher Mitch Horacek stepped onto the mound. Both Danny Seiton and Jameson Wells flied out to right centerfield and left centerfield, respectively, but made solid contact on the ball to force the outfielders to make a play in the gaps.
Anderson continued to work on the mound in the seventh, entering the inning with 83 pitches thrown, and quickly got the first two outs. Anderson worked left fielder Ryan Toimil to a full count and Toimil battled back with four foul balls to stay alive. On the 10th pitch of the at bat, Toimil hit a solo home run over the tarp in right center field covering the Metrodome bleachers to score the only of the game, 1-0.
Anderson would close the game with a career-high 111 pitches thrown in seven innings of work with six strikeouts and two walks, while only allowing four hits and one run. Both of his walks were allowed in the first inning of play.
The Huskies had an opportunity to get on the board in the eighth inning as Nate Ruzich singled through the left side, followed by a walk by Wells. With two outs, Brian Sisler hit a solid line drive to center field but it did not drop fast enough as the Big Green got underneath it to end the inning.
“Their starting pitcher did a good job of limiting base runners working the plate on us today,” added Mathey, “the relief pitcher did a good job as well but we were able to get to him a little more as well. We need to get those good pieces of the ball with a little less air underneath them. This team will hit. Right now we’re not doing it but this team will hit.”
Anthony Andres entered in relief for Northern Illinois in the eighth inning and picked off the runner on first base inherited by Anderson for the first out. Following a single, he struck out Trent Goodrich to get the second out of the inning but a double by Ennis Coble sent Thomas Roulis to third and put Dartmouth in scoring position.
Andres appeared to throw a wild pitch following the double that sent Roulis home, but catcher Joe Battaglia appealed to the home plate umpire that the ball hit the foot of batter. The crew got together and determined the was hit by the pitch after the awkward bounce of the ball to save the run and load the bases. Andres would force a groundout to Sisler to end the inning and the threat.
“That was a good veteran crew today,” said Mathey, “they got together and determined the ball went off the foot of the batter and that saved us a late run in the game. Anthony did a good job not to get rattled after that and ended the inning.
The Huskies were unable to start a rally in the ninth inning and fell to the Big Green, 1-0.
Northern Illinois (1-9) will close the Dairy Queen Classic tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. when it faces host Minnesota.