CHICAGO – After falling into an early gap, the Northern Illinois baseball team (5-16, 1-2 MAC) tied Kent State (8-12, 2-1 MAC) in the bottom of the second inning but the Golden Flashes prevailed in the contest to clinch the Mid-American Conference opening series, 13-1. Freshmen pitchers Bobby Kuntzendorf and Jon Savarise held KSU scoreless in their relief work.
“Today just wasn’t our day in any facet of the game, we were out pitched, out hit, out defended and out base ran,” said Head Coach Ed Mathey after the game. “I think the message with our kids is that that was the defending MAC Champion, coming out with a sense of purpose on a Sunday to win a series and that’s where we need to get to mentality and approach wise. We can’t just be satisfied with a win on the weekend.”
Kent State scored in the top of the first inning to gain the first advantage of the game on a sacrifice fly, 1-0. Northern Illinois tied it up in the second frame, led by Landon Tenhagen’s double down the right field line. Tenhagen would get a chance to showcase his wheels on an RBI single by Joe Battaglia up the middle to tie the game, 1-1.
The Golden Flashes would go on to score five runs in the third, two more in the fourth and another four runs in the sixth inning to gain a 12-1 advantage. KSU closed the game with a 13-1 lead after a single run in the eighth.
Savarise and Kuntzendorf appeared in the fifth and ninth innings, respectively, combining for three hits allowed, zero runs and zero walks. The Huskies pitching staff only allowed three walks and only hit one batter in the game. Zach Badgley also pitched strong in relief, hurling two innings, scattering two hits, striking out one and only allowing one run without a walk.
Following a single by Miklos in the fifth inning, centerfielder Jamison Wells saved a Savarise a run as he threw out Zarley Zalewski at home for the final out of the inning.
“As we like to talk about, the Mid-American Conference is a lot like a baseball game,” continued Mathey, “you have nine weekends in the conference season, nine innings in a game, and we did not win the first inning but we have to come back and win the baseball game and that’s what we have to do next weekend – go out and win a series.”
Northern Illinois will continue MAC play next weekend when it takes on Akron March 29-31.