Armbrustmacher shuts down Huskies, Broncos tie series


Tim Dodge

NIU senior center fielder Malik Peters (31) walks up to bat at the bottom of the ninth inning Friday. The Huskies lost to CMU 7-0 for the mid-afternoon game on April 7. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

By Zachary Bertram, Senior Sports Reporter

DeKALB – Clutch hitting eluded NIU baseball (7-25, 4-10 MAC) as it dropped the second game of a three-game set to the Western Michigan University Broncos (10-23, 7-7 MAC) 7-1 Saturday. 

Despite collecting 10 hits and drawing two walks, the Huskies were unable to capitalize and mustered just one run. Western Michigan senior pitcher Dane Armbrustmacher was dominant for the Broncos, throwing eight shutout innings and striking out nine Huskie batters. 

“You get 10 hits and one run, that just shows that we’re trying to do too much and aren’t allowing our natural ability to take over and stick with the plan that’s been working for us,” NIU baseball head coach Mike Kunigonis said. 

The Huskies struggled on the mound, giving up 13 hits and walking six batters. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Matt Salomonson suffered the loss, allowing one earned run on two hits in three innings of work. 

Western Michigan came up with the clutch hits that the Huskies were missing, scoring four of their seven runs with two outs.

“Two out hits win (games), especially with runners in scoring position,” Kunigonis said. “They (Western Michigan) did a good job on the offensive side and on the mound. We did not do as good of a job as we should have.”

Redshirt sophomore outfielder Dylan Nevar swung a hot bat for the Broncos, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored. 

After a 30 minute lightning delay following the first inning, the Broncos plated the first run of the game in the top of the second inning thanks to an RBI single from Nevar to give Western Michigan a 1-0 lead.

The Broncos added another run in the top of the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly off the bat of junior catcher Greg Budig to jump ahead 2-0.

The Huskies squandered scoring opportunities in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, hitting into double-plays in the fourth and sixth, and leaving two runners stranded in the fifth. 

Western Michigan added to its lead with two runs in both the seventh and ninth innings. Nevar hit a two-RBI double in the top of the seventh to put the Broncos up 5-0 and junior outfielder Jackson Kitchen delivered a two-RBI single to give the Broncos a 7-0 lead.

NIU scored one run in the bottom of the ninth inning off of Western Michigan redshirt sophomore pitcher Jake Gernon. Senior outfielder Malik Peters notched an RBI single to score senior outfielder Tyler Thierry to make the final score 7-1. 

“This is not an out of the ordinary thing to go into Sunday and be (tied) one-one and having a series split, we’re ready to go win one on Sunday,” Kunigonis said. “This is nothing new, we need to get back out there, play our game and get back to having good approaches on the mound, at the plate, and we’ll be fine.”


The Huskies’ next game will be a rubber match against Western Michigan at noon Sunday at Ralph McKinzie Field. The field will be renamed at 11:15 a.m. to Ralph McKinzie Field at Walt and Janice Owens Park. The game will be live streamed on NIU All-Access and live stats will be available via SideArm Stats.