In a pitcher's dual, featuring two of the Mid-American Conference's top hurlers, Northern Illinois (21-31, 15-10 MAC) fell to Ball State (27-22, 14-11 MAC) in game one of this week's series, 3-2. Eli Anderson (Glenview/New Trier) tossed his sixth complete game of the season in the loss. BSU starting pitcher Scott Baker also tossed a complete game.
"That was a good college baseball game with two, high quality pitchers going at it," said Head Coach Ed Mathey, "there was a lot of stuff on the line and it's a lot of fun to be in situations and games like this. It's simply came down to us not executing the short game the way that we needed to to get us the win. I thought we had plenty of runners in scoring position but we didn't get the big hits we needed but when you face a good pitcher on the mound, that's going to happen.
Northern Illinois struck first blood in the dual as the Huskies rattled off three-straight hits with one out in the top of the second inning, started by Micah McCulloch's (Rochelle/Rochelle Township) single to right field. Connor Duckhorn (Darien/Cowley County CC) followed with a double down the left field line and Nate Ruzich (Joliet/South Suburban College) finished the deal with a line drive single through the left side to put NIU ahead, 1-0, with runners on 1st and 3rd. The Huskies would strand Duckhorn on third as they grounded into a double play to end their half of the frame.
Ball State responded in the bottom of the 5th inning with one run to tie the game, 1-1, as Elbert DeVarie singled to right field with a runner on second. NIU retook the lead in the top of the sixth on a great series of gustoes by Jamison Wells (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly), Tommy Hook (Lockport/Lockport Township) and Alex Klonowski (Kearney, Mo./Kearney).
Wells singled on the first pitch of his at-bat and put the pressure on Baker from the mound. With Baker checking him at first, Wells promptly stole second base for his 23rd of the season on the second pitch of Hook's at bat. Baker checked Wells at second and threw the ball away to centerfield and put Wells on third base with no outs. Though Hook grounded out to first on the play, Klonowski sacrificed himself on a fly ball to centerfield to put NIU back on top after six, 2-1.
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