TOLEDO, Ohio – Northern Illinois (20-25, 14-6 MAC) took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning at Toledo (18-26, 9-11 MAC) Saturday but the Rockets countered back with two runs in the bottom of the frame to regain the lead and hold it to defeat the Huskies, 6-3. Sophomore Micah McCulloch led NIU at the plate, finishing 3-for-5 with a run and two doubles. Northern Illinois outhit the Rockets, 11-10.
“We didn’t get the runs and the hits that we needed to score today,” said Head Coach Ed Mathey, “we gave up too many free bases today, not only from the mound, but on non-plays defensively and in stolen bases. Toledo capitalized on their chances and they were able to score runs throughout the game.”
With Toledo owning a 1-0 lead after the first, Northern Illinois responded in the top of the third stanza, led by Tommy Hook’s leadoff single up the middle. Alex Klonowski grounded out to push Hook to second but Jeff Zimmerman singled up the middle to score Hook and tie the game, 1-1.
The inning continued when McCulloch collected his first hit of the day to put Zimmerman on second, followed by a Nate Ruzich walk to load the bases. NIU took the lead on an RBI fielder’s choice by Brian Sisler to make it 2-1 Northern Illinois with runners on first and third.
Toledo responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, following a walk and a double to put runners on second and third. Ben Hammer singled up the middle to score both runners and put the Rockets back on top, 3-2. UT would add one more run in the fourth inning to make it 4-2.
After Toledo jumped to 6-2 lead, the Huskies cut the lead in the half in the eighth inning, 6-3. McCulloch doubled to lead the inning and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Sisler walked to put runners on first and third for Joe Battaglia, who singled through the left side for NIU’s final run of the game.
The Huskies had a chance in the ninth to tie the game with runners on second and third and two outs, but a strikeout ended the game to split the series, 1-1.
Zimmerman finished 2-for-5 in the game with an RBI, a run and double to extend his hitting streak to 11-games, tying his career-high set earlier this year. Sisler finished 0-for-1 with two walks, a sacrifice hit and an RBI.
NIU will look to clinch its sixth-straight series tomorrow against Toledo with first pitch slated for 12:05 p.m. Central. Klonowski (4-5) will take the hill for the Huskies, squaring off against Toledo’s Ryan Wilkinson (4-3).