Baseball takes home series over Miami

By Roland Hacker

DeKALB — The baseball team won two of its three games in a series with the University of Miami RedHawks over the weekend at Ralph McKinzie Field in DeKalb.

Junior pitcher Tanner Foster and freshman pitcher Michael Lasiewicz both had strong outings for the Huskies to start the series.

“If we could’ve swept, it would have been that much better,” Foster said. “Winning two out of three with those guys who are No. 2 in the conference, that helps us. I think we’re turning a page right now. It’s now or never.”

NIU dropped the final game of the series Sunday despite leading most of the contest.

“A disappointing finish to an otherwise good weekend,” said Head Coach Mike Kunigonis. “It should have been a great weekend, but it was a good one. We’re going to take the positives and move into next week and try to win another weekend.”

Friday – Huskies 5, RedHawks 2

The fourth inning was key for both teams Friday. The RedHawks began the scoring in the top of the fourth inning with a pair of unearned runs on errors from senior infielder Brad Wood and sophomore infielder Tommy Szczasny.

NIU struck back in the bottom half of the inning. Junior outfielder Hunter Bross got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in the first run. Freshman infielder Tommy Washington also got hit with the bases loaded to even the score at two.

The Huskies took the lead on a double down the line from Wood, who was rewarded with two RBIs on the extra base hit.

NIU got some insurance from senior outfielder Scooter Bynum in the bottom of the fifth inning when he cracked a solo home run, extending the lead to three runs.

Foster left the game after throwing six innings and allowing two unearned runs.

“[Lasiewicz and I] feed off of each other,” Foster said. “We have to make adjustments every outing. With Lasiewicz being a freshman, he makes quick adjustments. I think that’s what makes us successful.”

The NIU bullpen closed the door the rest of the way as the Huskies came away with a 5-2 victory in the first game of the series.

Saturday – Huskies 2, Redhawks 1

The Huskies drew first blood in game two of the series with an RBI sacrifice fly from freshman outfielder Kam Smith in the fourth inning.

Miami evened the score in the top of the sixth inning with an RBI double. NIU responded in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI single from Szczasny to retake the lead.

Lasiewicz threw a complete game and earned the win, allowing one run and striking out 11 batters.

Lasiewicz’s performance was only one half of the pitcher’s duel, as RedHawks’ starting pitcher Zach Spears tossed eight innings and gave up two hits but still lost the game 2-1.

Sunday – Redhawks 5, Huskies 1

The Huskies took the lead in the fourth inning to open the scoring in the series finale Sunday.

“Our pitching all weekend was outstanding until that eighth inning,” Kunigonis said. “We had a couple of hiccups and hard luck hits. That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes, but I thought as a whole we pitched fantastic all weekend.”

NIU was on the verge of sweeping the series until a costly eighth inning. The RedHawks scored five runs in the eighth inning off of sophomore pitcher Nate Thomas.

The Huskies tried to rally in the ninth inning with a lead-off double off the bat of Wood. The rally fell short and NIU dropped the series finale 5-1.

“I thought we came out with better energy Friday and Saturday,” Kunigonis said. “I thought we were a little lacking [Sunday], but as a whole, our energy was fantastic.”

The Huskies will return to action 3 p.m. Tuesday at Ralph McKinzie Field to take on the Indiana State University Sycamores.