Baseball drops high-scoring series to Kent State


Baseball drops high-scoring series to Kent State

James Krause

DeKALB — The baseball team lost its rubber match to defending Mid-American Conference champions the Kent State Golden Flashes Sunday.
The loss drops the team to 8-7 in MAC play on a weekend when the team scored 31 total runs over three games.
Head Coach Mike Kunigonis said the Huskies had a chance to make a huge impact on the standings but couldn’t put it all together.
“[A missed opportunity] is what this weekend was,” Kunigonis said. “Unfortunately we didn’t do enough on our side of the ball in many different phases, whether it was scoring more runs, playing defense or coming up with more timely hits.”
Friday – Huskies 17, Golden Flashes 11
It was an offense-heavy Friday afternoon at Ralph McKinzie Field as the teams combined for 28 runs and 32 hits on the afternoon.
Kent State scored its first run off of one of seven errors committed by the Huskies, their most this season. 
A 3-run home run by first-year outfielder Justin Kirby made the score 4-0 after the first half inning. By the end of the day, Kirby would have a team-high 5 RBIs on three home runs.
The Huskies cut the lead in half with RBIs from first-year outfielder Nick Drobushevich and junior outfielder Kam Smith. Smith would end the game leading the way with 6 RBIs on 4-for-6 hitting.
After Kent State scored three runs in the second, the Huskies brought the lead down to one with a three-run homer by junior catcher Jake Dunham. 
Smith would give NIU the lead with a two-run shot over the wall in left center to go up 8-7.
The Golden Flashes tied the game at 8-8 in the third on a fielder’s choice double play, but junior outfielder Brendan Joyce took the lead back with his own home run. The two-run shot gave the Huskies a 10-8 lead they wouldn’t surrender again.
Five different Huskies scored multiple RBIs. Smith led the way with six, while the team leader in RBIs Drobushevich brought home four.
Dunham scored three while also drawing three walks. 

Related: Baseball drops to 7-5 in MAC play after series loss to Western Michigan

Joyce also scored three while junior infielder Dylan Lonteen finished with 2 RBIs.

On an offense heavy day, junior pitcher Tristan Michaels was credited with the win in two innings of relief. Senior pitcher William Anderson picked up his first save of the season, pitching the final four innings of relief.


Saturday-Golden Flashes 11, Huskies 10

Entering the bottom of the third tied at 1-1, the Huskies scored four to take the lead. Lonteen put the Huskies ahead with a single to left field.

After scoring one alreading in the fourth, the Golden Flashes tied the game up again with a three-run shot by sophomore infielder Alex Ronnebaum, making it 5-5.

The Huskies took back the lead with RBIs from Joyce and Dunham gave NIU the 7-5 lead in the fourth. A 2-RBI single by Drobushevich and a wild pitch helped NIU double up the Golden Flashes 10-5 after six.

A 2-run homer by sophomore outfielder Ben Carew shrunk the lead to 10-7 in the seventh, but Kent State still needed three runs to tie and four to take the lead entering the ninth.

Facing junior pitcher Nate Thomas, the Golden Flashes made it a one-run game with a 2-RBI single by Ronnebaum.

After Thomas let two more on and was pulled, Carew doubled down the right field line to score the tying and go-ahead runs. The Flashes took a 11-10 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

KSU senior pitcher Pavin Parks put down the Huskies in three batters to pick up the save and a 11-10 win. Thomas would be credited with the loss.


Sunday-Golden Flashes 10, Huskies 3

The Huskies hot offense was halted in the Easter series decider by first-year pitcher Trevor Pittman, who threw five innings without giving up an earned run and striking out six.

The game went scoreless until the third, when the Golden Flashes scored two runs to take an early lead.

After picking up another run on a fly out in the fourth, Pittman gave up his only run on a double steal to end the fourth, making it a 3-1 game.

The Golden Flashes blew the game wide open in the fifth, scoring five runs to take a 8-1 lead.

Junior outfielder Cam Touchette and senior catcher Pete Schuler both singled to right for RBIs, while senior infielder Kain O’Brien cleared the bases with a two-RBI triple.

Once Pittman was pulled, the Huskies still had to contend with pitcher Luke Albright, who over 51 pitches in four innings threw 36 strikes.

Albright would be credited with a save while Pittman picked up his first win of the year. Junior pitcher Ryan Anderson took the loss in the 10-3 final.

NIU’s overall record falls to 12-27 on the season while holding a strong 7-4 home record.

The Huskies head on the road Tuesday evening to face the Illinois State Cardinals in a one-off non-conference game in Normal. First pitch is at 5 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN+.