Baseball totals one hit in loss to Valparaiso

By Eddie Garcia

The baseball team went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position in its midweek loss, 8-2, against the Valparaiso University Crusaders in Valparaiso, Indiana to end a two-game streak.

The Huskies (14-29, 8-7 MAC) scored the first run of the game after four consecutive walks by Valparaiso (18-25, 7-12 Horizon) freshman pitcher Michael Mommersteeg.

Mommersteeg was replaced by freshman pitcher Jake Larson, who was able to escape the bases-loaded jam with it remaining a one-run ball game.

“Today was a rough day all-around,” Head Coach Mike Kunigonis said, according to NIU Media Services. “We need to learn from these games and continue to gain experience as individuals, as a group and as a program.”

NIU did not keep the lead for long, as the Crusaders had a three-run, two-out rally in the bottom half of the first inning to give them a two-run lead.

The Huskies recorded three errors in the field, which helped the Crusaders score three of their eight runs in the game.

NIU freshman pitcher Blake Walker pitched four innings, as he allowed four runs, three of them earned, with three strikeouts and four walks.

The bullpen took over in the fifth inning as it allowed four more runs in the game with an additional five walks.

The Huskies’ pitching staff handed out 11 walks in the game with five strikeouts on the day.

Six separate NIU batters recorded at least one hit, including junior outfielder Roderick Bynum, who went 1-for-3 on the day.

Valparaiso managed to tack on run support in four consecutive innings, as they extended an 8-1 lead over the Huskies.

NIU added one run in the top of the ninth inning off an RBI base-hit by junior infielder Samuel Vega to make it an 8-2 deficit.

Vega has played in all 42 games thus far, and he leads the team with 49 hits, while batting .298 on the season.

“If we learn hard lessons from our tough games, we will be better off in the long haul, and we can become a tough team in the future,” Kunigonis said, according to NIU Media Services.

The Huskies will head back into conference play this weekend as they take on the Central Michigan University Chippewas 2 p.m. Friday in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

The Chippewas (23-20, 11-4 MAC) are the first place team in the MAC West division but will be coming off a conference series loss against Kent State University.

This is a big series for the Huskies, as they are one game behind the second place Eastern Michigan University Eagles in the MAC West division standings and look to gain a half-game lead on the Eagles.