Baseball wins series against Ball State

By Eddie Garcia

DeKALB — The Huskies managed to swing their way back into the game to get the comeback victory, 11-8, after trailing 5-0 in the third inning in the final game of the series against the Ball State University Cardinals.

NIU (14-28, 8-7 MAC) split Friday’s doubleheader against the Cardinals (22-21, 9-8 MAC) with a 4-1 loss in game one but bounced back with excellent contribution from the pitching rotation for a 6-3 win in game two.

Redshirt senior infielder Tommy Hook and freshman infielder Tommy Szczasny combined for a .300 average with two home runs and seven RBIs in the series.

Both of the home runs came back-to-back in game two to right field. This is only the second time this season NIU has hit back-to-back home-runs.

Game one — Ball State 4, NIU 1

The Huskies failed to have run support as the team recorded one run, on five hits, while striking out seven times, despite a quality start, which is a minimum of six innings pitched while giving up three earned runs or less, by senior pitcher Joe Hawks.

Hawks threw seven innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on eight hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

Hawks received his fourth loss of the season with his record now at 4-4 with a 3.27 season ERA.

The Cardinals were the first to get on the board in the top of the second after a two out, two-run double by senior infielder Alex Maloney.

NIU scored its only run of the game in the bottom half of the second inning on a two out RBI double by junior infielder Brad Wood.

Ball State scored two more runs in the top of the seventh to solidify a 4-1 win.

Game two — NIU 6, Ball State 3.

Seven of the nine batters in the lineup managed to record a hit in game two of the series.

The team combined for six runs on 10 hits in the game as most of the damage came in the fifth inning in the form of back-to-back home runs by Hook and Szczsany.

The Huskies got out to a 5-2 lead after a four-run fifth inning and added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.

The bullpen played a huge role in this game as junior pitcher George Faue threw four innings without a walk, allowing just one run while striking out three batters.

Faue came in relief of freshman pitcher Nathan Thomas, who threw five innings to start the game. Thomas allowed two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out three.

Freshman catcher Jacob Dunham finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and a walk.

Game three – NIU 11, Ball State 8

Ball State jumped to a 5-0 lead as they scored two runs in the second inning and three runs in the third inning off of sophomore pitcher William Anderson.

Anderson did not have a great performance on the mound, as he went two and 1/3 innings, allowing five runs, two earned, on four hits and three walks.

Senior pitcher Ryne Blanton picked up the win as he came in relief of Anderson in the top of the fourth inning.

The Huskies batted around in the sixth inning as the offensive frenzy began with a walk by Wood and ended with a strike out by him as well.

NIU added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it a 9-5 ball game.

However, the Cardinals responded with three runs in the top of the seventh inning to bring the game within one run.

The Huskies then added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning before the downpour of rain forced the umpires to call the game.

All nine of the NIU starters reached base in the 11-8 series finale victory.

Seniors Tommy Hook and outfielder Jason Gasser each managed to get on base three times as they combined for five hits, three RBIs and four runs scored.

The Huskies’ next game is 2 p.m. Tuesday against Valparaiso University (16-25, 6-12 Horizon) in Valparaiso, Indiana.