Zips sweep doubleheader, series with Huskies


Tim Dodge

NIU junior catcher Colin Summerhill (8) slides into third base after hitting a triple on Friday against Akron. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

By Zachary Bertram, Senior Sports Reporter

DeKALB – NIU baseball (7-35, 4-16 MAC) dropped both games of a doubleheader against the University of Akron Zips (17-27, 9-15 MAC). NIU pitching continued to struggle as they lost Game 1 11-9 and lost Game 2 8-4 for its 10th and 11th consecutive losses. 


The Huskies dropped an 11-9 shootout in Game 1. Akron scored its 11 runs on 12 hits and NIU scored its nine runs on 14 hits. 

Akron redshirt junior outfielder Jack Firestone had a strong day at the plate, going 2-for-6 with 4 RBIs. Junior outfielder and catcher Colin Summerhill led the way for the Huskies, going 1-for-4 with a three-run home run. 

Despite allowing four earned runs on six hits in four innings pitched, freshman pitcher Emmett Gillies earned the win for the Zips. NIU sophomore pitcher Mason Ruh suffered the loss, allowing three earned runs on five hits in four innings of work. 

“We’re banged up right now on the mound, we got a bunch of guys with some bumps and bruises, so we needed some length out of him (Ruh) and he definitely gave that to us,” said NIU baseball head coach Mike Kunigonis.

The Huskies struck first in the high-scoring Game 1 affair with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Junior center fielder Eric Erato delivered a two-RBI single to put NIU up 3-0 heading into the third. 

The Zips stormed back with a four-run top of the third inning to take the lead. Firestone provided the big blow of the inning with a three-run home run to put Akron ahead 4-3. 

NIU answered immediately in the bottom of the third with a two RBI double off the bat of junior infielder Mason Kelley to regain a 5-4 lead.

After five unanswered runs from the Zips to take a 9-5 lead, the Huskies put together a four run bottom of the seventh to knot up the score. Summerhill launched a three-run homer to cut the deficit to one, and junior infielder Jake Nelson notched an RBI single to tie the game at 9-9.

“He’s (Summerhill) been playing well all year,” Kunigonis said. “He’s really good when he keeps his confidence high, and today was a great day.”

Redshirt junior infielder Breydan Cavey hit a go-ahead two RBI double in the top of the eighth to give the Zips an 11-9 advantage. 

The Huskies put together a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning after sophomore infielder Christian Seegers was hit by a pitch, and junior infielder Jake Nelson worked a walk. Erato stepped up to the plate as the winning run with two outs, but Nelson was picked off at first base to end the game. 


The Huskies fell 8-4 in game two of the doubleheader. NIU struggled on defense, committing two errors.

Junior utility player Max Bowman propelled the Zips to the doubleheader sweep, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and one run scored. Summerhill had another strong game for the Huskies, going 2-for-4 with one RBI. 

Akron redshirt junior pitcher Yassir Kahook allowed just one earned run in 3.1 innings en route to earning the victory. NIU junior pitcher Jacob Draeger suffered the loss, allowing four earned runs on four hits in 4.2 innings pitched. 

“He (Draeger) did a great job, he wasn’t slated to start that game and he gave us more than an opportunity to win,” Kunigonis said. “He came out and gave us exactly what we needed, which was a bunch of zeroes. He ran out of gas a little bit there but was strong all the way until the fifth inning.” 

The Huskies took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning thanks to RBI knocks from Summerhill and Seegers. 

After four scoreless innings from Draeger, the Zips jumped ahead with a four-run top of the fifth inning. Bowman launched a two-run homer to even up the score, and Firestone hit a two-RBI triple to put Akron up 4-2. 

Senior outfielder Malik Peters responded in the bottom half of the fifth with a sacrifice fly to score junior infielder Andre Demetral and cut the Akron lead to 4-3. 

In addition to Peters’ day at the plate, he also made two catches at the wall on Saturday. 

“He’s (Peters) just reading the baseball very very well out there, making some great plays,” Kunigonis said. “Sacrificing the body multiple times, that ball he catches up against the fence, goes crashing into the fence … He’s playing well and giving everything he’s got.” 

After Peters’ sacrifice fly, the Zips added four more runs thanks to home runs from sophomore catcher Andrew Horvath and senior outfielder Nick Arrivo to extend the lead to 8-3. 

NIU added one more run in the eighth inning with an RBI from Nelson to make the score 8-4. Junior pitcher Anthony Fett sealed the win for the Zips, recording the final five outs. 


The Huskies’ next game will be against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Franklin, Wisconsin. The game will be live streamed on ESPN+, and live stats will be available via StatBroadcast.