Ohio spoils Huskies’ opening day


Tim Dodge

(From left) NIU junior catcher Colin Summerhill (8), junior shortstop Andre Demetral (1), redshirt sophomore pitcher Matt Salomonson (34), junior second baseman Aaron Harper (22) and junior first baseman Andrew Smart (27) approach the pitcher’s mound early into the Huskies’ game against Ohio University Friday. The Huskies lost to the Ohio Bobcats 2-11 for their first of three matchups this weekend. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

By Alex Crowe, Assistant Sports Editor

DeKALB – A bad start cost NIU baseball at Ralph McKinzie Field Friday, as the Ohio University Bobcats spoiled opening day by downing the Huskies by a final score of 11-2.

The Huskies (4-16, 1-6 MAC) gave up double-digit runs for the seventh time in their last eight games with the loss, and Ohio (6-13, 4-3 MAC) snapped a two-game losing streak. 

Down early, NIU had to play the whole game from behind and never got closer than six runs. 

“You got to show up every single pitch and be ready to go every pitch (and) every play,” head coach Mike Kunigonis said. 


After starting the season with 20 games on the road, NIU finally played its first home game at the new Ralph McKinzie Field with new turf on the infield.

“It was obviously very nice to be here – open up the park,” Kunigonis said. “We’ve been putting this together since I got here – eight years. And to see it kind of come to fruition is really nice.”


Redshirt sophomore pitcher Matt Salomonson only recorded one out before being pulled in favor of sophomore pitcher Mason Ruh. Salomonson allowed five runs on four Ohio hits and three walks in just 0.1 innings of work. Ohio led 5-0 after the top of the first.

In relief of Salomonson, Ruh settled in to start the third inning. After allowing three more Ohio runs in the second, Ruh sat down 11 straight Bobcat hitters from the third to the sixth inning. 

“He was awesome,” Kunigonis said about Ruh’s performance. “He came out here and he competed and he wanted the ball. He wanted to be the guy on the mound and that was fantastic, and he gave us a chance to win today.” 

Ruh tossed 6.2 innings after replacing Salomonson in the first and allowed four runs on three hits, striking out nine Bobcats. 


The Huskies were down 8-0 after two innings, but had plenty of opportunities to get back in the game in the batter’s box while Ruh kept Ohio at bay.

The best chance NIU had against Ohio junior pitcher Luke Olson came in the top of the sixth inning. The Huskies loaded the bases with one out down 8-2. The Huskies made an out at home on a fielder’s choice by sophomore designated hitter Kaden Kosobucki. Junior infielder Mason Kelley then flew out to right field to end the threat and keep the deficit at six. 

NIU had another chance in the eighth inning with a bases-loaded, one-out situation. Junior outfielder Spencer Bartel pinch-hit for Kosobucki and struck out, followed by a strikeout by Kelley to leave three more Huskies on base. 

“You got to execute when you have opportunities,” Kunigonis said. “It’s obviously not ideal when you get down early, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come back. We have the offense that can come back and do some great things. We just got to execute when we have guys in scoring position.”

The Huskies left 11 runners on base in Friday’s game.


Ohio jumped all over NIU in the first inning, putting up five runs. The Bobcats kept up the pressure the next inning with three more runs, which included a two-RBI (runs batted in) triple from Bobcat junior utility player Cole Williams. 

The Huskies got on the board in the third when a sacrifice fly by junior second baseman Aaron Harper brought home junior right fielder Eric Erato to make the score 8-1. Kosobucki cut the lead to 8-2 on an RBI single in the fourth inning. 

Kosobucki’s RBI was the final run for NIU, as the Bobcats scored a run in each of the final three innings. A home run by Ohio fifth-year outfielder Will Sturek in the seventh and another home run by senior catcher Alex Finney in the eighth sealed the 11-2 win for the Bobcats.


Despite the disappointing result, Kunigonis said the team needs to set its sights on the final two games of the weekend.

“It’s just one game,” Kunigonis said. “We’ll be ready to go. Tomorrow we even the series and today, we don’t even think about today. So, we’re going to come back and battle, be ready to go tomorrow.” 

The Huskies will look to even their home-opening series with Ohio again at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ralph McKinzie Field. 

The game will be streamed on NIU All-Access and live stats will be available on SideArm Sports.