Baseball’s offense sputters in series loss


Junior infielder Brad Wood looks after hitting a pop-up that went foul. The Huskies lost two out of three games against University at Buffalo. 

By Eddie Garcia

DeKALB — The baseball team broke its four-game losing streak Sunday but lost the weekend series two games to one against the University at Buffalo Bulls.

The Huskies (9-22, 5-4 Mid-American Conference) had 18 total hits, including four extra-base hits, while successfully stealing home base twice in the series.

NIU fell, 6-3, in game one Saturday before splitting the doubleheader on Sunday with a close, 2-1, victory in game one and suffering a 3-1, series-ending loss in game two.

The series was changed from playing one game Friday, Saturday and Sunday to one game Saturday and a doubleheader Sunday because of weather concerns.

Saturday’s game was moved to Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and Sunday’s doubleheader was played at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York.

Saturday — Bulls 6, NIU 3

The Huskies came up short in the series opener as the Bulls (10-17, 3-3 MAC) scored four unanswered runs late in the game to seal the win.

“This is a disappointing loss for us [Saturday] because we battled enough to take a lead and stay in the game but couldn’t find consistency in our game,” said Head Coach Mike Kunigonis.

Senior pitcher Joe Hawks picked up the loss, as he moves to a record of 3-3 on the season. Hawks pitched five innings, giving up four runs on six hits while walking three batters and finishing with six strikeouts on the day.

Sophomore pitcher William Anderson finished the game in relief as he pitched innings six through eight while allowing two runs on two hits with two walks.

NIU’s offense came alive after being down 2-0 in the top half of the fifth inning, as the Bulls junior starting pitcher Shawn Dubin walked two consecutive batters to set up a base-clearing, two-run double by junior outfielder Roderick Bynum.

Junior infielder Samuel Vega continued his 17-game hit streak as he lined an RBI single to center that would score Bynum to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead.

The Bulls retaliated with two more runs in the bottom half of the fifth inning to reclaim a 4-3 lead.

Buffalo added some insurance runs in the bottom half of the seventh inning, as NIU was unable to mount a comeback.

Sunday game one — NIU 2, Bulls 1

After losing four consecutive games, NIU opened up Sunday’s doubleheader with a 2-1 victory.

All of the scoring action came in the third inning of the ballgame as the Huskies struck first with a leadoff single by redshirt senior infielder Tommy Hook, who was brought in on a one-out RBI double by freshman infielder Tommy Szczasny.

Szczasny advanced to third base on a fielder’s choice. Szczasny used good baseball awareness and took off on the throwing attempt to second and scored what ended up being the game-winning run. Szczasny finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and a run scored.

Buffalo scored one run in the bottom of the third inning after a walk and wild pitch by freshman pitcher Nathan Thomas, who then allowed an RBI single up the middle to make it a one-ball game.

Thomas went six innings, allowing one earned run on three hits with four walks while punching out four batters in the game. The freshman pitcher improved his record to 2-2 on the season with a 4.85 ERA in 29 and 2/3 innings pitched.

Sunday game two — Bulls 3, NIU 1

It was another rough outing for junior pitcher Donovin Sims, who went five innings, allowing three runs on 10 hits as he faced 23 batters.

Sims picked up his second consecutive loss as a starter, as he drops his record to 3-2 on the season with a 4.37 ERA in 45 and 1/3 innings pitched.

Buffalo jumped to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning after back-to-back hits.

The Bulls struck again in the bottom half of the fourth inning with a solo home run to right field from senior infielder Chris Kwitzer.

NIU’s offense did not provide much in the game as the team combined for only five hits.

The Huskies scored one run in the top half of the fifth inning fueled by a one-out triple by freshman outfielder Alec Barger, who later stole home on another successful double steal attempt.

Junior infielder Brad Wood finished as the only Huskie with multiple hits in the game, as Vega’s team-high, 18-game hit streak ended after going 0-for-4 in the loss.

NIU returns back home 3:05 p.m. Tuesday at Ralph McKinzie Field to take on the UIC Flames for the second time this season. The Huskies look to get revenge as they lost 6-1 to the Flames March 28 in Chicago.