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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies end MAC series winning streak

Then+junior+infielder%2Foutfielder+Andrew+Smart+%2827%29+takes+a+practice+swing+while+on-deck+on+March+24%2C+2023.+NIU+baseball+lost+its+fourth+straight+game+as+it+lost+7-4+to+Miami+University.+%28Northern+Star+File+Photo%29
Tim Dodge
Then junior infielder/outfielder Andrew Smart (27) takes a practice swing while on-deck on March 24, 2023. NIU baseball lost its fourth straight game as it lost 7-4 to Miami University. (Northern Star File Photo)

A shutout performance from the University of Miami RedHawks (9-12, 4-4 MAC) bullpen led Miami to a 7-4 victory over NIU baseball (7-16, 4-4 MAC) Saturday, handing the Huskies their first conference series loss of 2024. 

The Huskies opened up MAC play with back-to-back series wins over Ohio University and the University of Akron, but have been unable to crack the code of RedHawks pitching through two games. NIU has now lost four straight games and will look to avoid the sweep Sunday.

BULLPEN DOMINANCE

After taking a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third inning, the Huskies’ bats were completely shut down by Miami’s bullpen, recording just one hit over the final six innings. No Huskie recorded more than one hit in Saturday’s losing effort. 

“We haven’t had an answer for their bullpen arms,” said NIU baseball head coach Ryan Copeland via NIU Athletics. “I think we’ve done a good job with handling their starter, but it’s hard to explain. When you look at the box scores and think about the game early on, you’d like to think you come out with a couple wins when you chase the starter early but that just hasn’t been the case. Their guys deserve credit for that but we have to find a way to be better offensively.”

Miami sophomore pitcher/first baseman/outfielder Carson Byers relieved sophomore pitcher Luke Ross in the fourth inning, providing the RedHawks with 4.1 scoreless innings. Byers and graduate pitcher Lukas Galdoni combined to shut the Huskies’ offense out over the final six innings.

NIU also provided quality pitching from its bullpen as four Huskie relievers combined to allow just 2 earned runs over 5.2 innings. Junior pitcher Tommy Meyer got the start but struggled, allowing 5 earned runs and lasting just 3.1 innings. 

BACK AND FORTH AFFAIR

The RedHawks jumped on Meyer immediately, tagging him for three runs in the first two innings. After a bases-loaded hit by pitch got Miami on the board in the first inning, the RedHawks added two more runs on a sacrifice bunt and a bases loaded-walk to take an early 3-0 lead. 

Junior outfielder CJ Cepicky answered quickly for the Huskies, notching a two-out RBI single to cut the RedHawks’ lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the second inning.

The Huskies’ picked up where they left off in the third inning, scoring three runs to take a short-lived 4-3 lead. Senior infielder Jake Nelson and senior catcher/outfielder Colin Summerhill launched back-to-back RBI doubles to tie the game at 3-3. Junior outfielder JP Gauthier gave the Huskies their first and only lead of the day with an RBI single to take a 4-3 lead.

“After we had that big three spot in the third, there just wasn’t a whole lot there,” Copeland said via NIU Athletics. “Our bullpen did a good job once again. It’s just hard when you fall behind early and fight hard to get back in it and take the lead only to give it right back. It feels like a reoccuring theme this season.”

Miami wasted no time getting back on the scoreboard, plating two runs in the top of the fourth inning. An RBI single from junior infielder Blake Buzzeo gave the RedHawks a 5-4 lead, proving to be the game-winning hit. 

The RedHawks added two more insurance runs off NIU redshirt junior pitcher Matt Salomonson in the top of the seventh inning. Miami redshirt junior infielder Dillon Baker provided the big blow of the inning with an RBI triple, helping Miami take a 7-4 lead. 

Byers continued his dominance, allowing no hits and pitching into the eighth inning before handing the ball off to Galdoni for the five-out save. 

UP NEXT

The Huskies will conclude their three game series with the RedHawks at noon Sunday at McKie Field at Hayden Park in Oxford, Ohio. The game will be streamed on Chatterbox Sports and live stats will be available via SIDEARM Stats.

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