Baseball wins first game of season over Maine


Wes Sanderson

Then-sophomore infielder Mason Kelley (25) plays first base during a game against Kent State on March 28, 2022 in DeKalb.

By Alex Crowe, Assistant Sports Editor

DeKALB – A solid pitching performance and home runs from junior infielder Mason Kelley and junior infielder/outfielder Parker Shupe helped NIU baseball earn its first win of the season against the University of Maine by a final score of 6-3. 

The win saw NIU (1-6, 0-0 MAC) hit its first two home runs of the season and extended Maine’s (2-4, 0-0 AEC) losing streak to three games. 

The Huskies put together an all around effort on both sides of the ball. The offense posted a season-high six runs, while the pitching trio of senior pitcher Brandon McPherson, sophomore pitcher Matt Salomonson and junior pitcher DJ Hess allowed three runs on just five Maine hits. 

“It’s always nice to get that first win under your belt,” head coach Mike Kunigonis said via NIU Athletics press release. “We’ve been close to clicking the past few games and today we grinded out a great win.”


The offense was clutch for NIU, scoring three of its six runs with two outs. A wild pitch by Maine junior pitcher Noah Lewis with two outs scored Shupe from third base in the fifth inning. Junior outfielder/catcher Colin Summerhill hit a two-out RBI (runs batted in) double in the seventh inning, then Shupe blasted his home run over the right field fence with two down in the ninth.

Summerhill and Shupe each drove in two runs, both hitting 3-for-5. Kelley also chipped in an RBI with his home run in the eighth inning. Other NIU hits came from junior infielders Andre Demetral and Eric Erato. 

Kunigonis was happy to see his offense come alive.

Offensively, we’re starting to see glimpses of what we have seen out of this group all fall and winter,” Kunigonis said via NIU Athletics. “The guys are starting to play Huskieball and it showed on the scoreboard today.”


NIU’s pitching staff also put together a solid outing Sunday. McPherson got the nod to start on the hill, tossing two innings of no-hit ball. He finished with a line of 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K, 3 BB.

Salomonson came in after McPherson and pitched five quality innings for NIU, earning the win. He began his sixth inning of work in the eighth, but a leadoff walk ended his day with a solid 5 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K line. 

Kunigonis called on Hess to get the final six outs, and he slammed the door on Maine. After Salomonson allowed the leadoff walk in the eighth, Hess forced a sacrifice bunt ground out and a fly out, then struck out redshirt junior utility player Jake Rainess for a one-two-three inning. The only base runner Hess allowed in the ninth was due to an error, but he sat down the three other batters to earn the six-out save. Hess finished with a line of 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. 

Kunigonis praised his three pitchers Sunday for their efforts in the teams’ first win. 

“Brandon was our opener today and battled out of that jam early to set the tone on the mound,” Kunigonis said via NIU Athletics. “Salomonson came in and did a great job keeping us in the game until DJ came in and slammed the door.”


NIU got off to an early 1-0 lead after an RBI single by Summerhill drove in Erato. Maine responded in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by senior infielder Connor Goodman to tie the score at 1-1.

Maine grabbed a 2-1 lead on a two-out RBI single by first baseman/designated hitter Jeremiah Jenkins. The Huskies responded the next inning when sophomore catcher Kaden Kosobucki scored on a double by Shupe. Shupe scored on a wild pitch to give NIU a 3-2 lead. 

Maine tied the game again in the bottom half of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by junior utility player Nick White. 

NIU took the lead in the seventh on an RBI double by Summerhill. Kelley’s eighth-inning home run and Shupe’s ninth-inning bomb sealed the 6-3 win for NIU. 


The Huskies continue its 20-game road trip in Bowling Green, Kentucky, next weekend to take on Western Kentucky University in a four-game series. First pitch for game one of the series will be at 3 p.m. Friday.

The game will be available to listen to via The Varsity Network.