NIU baseball: Huskies drop 2 of 3 at Central Michigan

By Steve Shonder

Baseball (20-28, 8-13 MAC) wasn’t able to make up any ground in the MAC in its three-game series with the Central Michigan Chippewas (30-17, 15-6 MAC) over the weekend in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Chippewas scored 34 runs in the series as they took two out of three from the Huskies. Outside of senior Dirk Ormsby’s start Saturday in which he gave up six runs, the Huskies’ starters allowed a combined 19 runs in just five innings. Early errors by the Huskies’ defense did jumpstart the Chippewas’ big innings.

“It looks like on a line score that they had some rocky outings, but we didn’t help those guys out defensively,” said head coach Mike Kunigonis. “But it’s not on those guys at all. Obviously, they didn’t help themselves out after the errors, but our defense puts us in a tough position.”

Offensively, the Huskies weren’t much better, scoring just nine runs. They also left 27 runners on base, 17 of which were in Friday and Sunday’s games. Sunday, the Huskies had a pair of bases-loaded situations but were only able to get one run from each inning.

“We definitely need to capitalize more when get guys in scoring position,” Kunigonis said. “We did a really good job of situational hitting Saturday. It’s really tough when you’re down so much early. We need to simplify things a little bit more and chip away at a big lead instead of trying to score more at once.”

Game one

The Chippewas came out of the gate swinging and got the win 14-2 Friday.

Senior starter Ben Neumann was shelled for 10 runs, eight of which were earned, in two innings of work. Despite the early offensive outburst by the Chippewas, freshmen Matt Hoffmann and Colby Carmichael limited the damage by allowing four runs over a combined six innings of work.

After the Huskies scored a pair in the top of the second to go up 2-1, Central Michigan put a nine-spot on the board in the bottom half of the inning. A three-run homer from Dan Jipping capped off their big inning.

Game two

Timely hitting and some solid pitching gave the Huskies a 6-5 win Saturday.

With Central Michigan up 4-3 heading into the top of sixth, the Huskies put together a three-run rally. With one run already in, junior Brian Sisler hit a bases-loaded single to drive in a pair of runs and put NIU up 6-4.

The Chippewas battled back for a run in the bottom half of the frame, but the Huskies’ bullpen was able to hold down the lead and secure the win. Sophomore Andrew Frankenreider picked up his eighth save of the season with two innings of work. He’s now in sole possession of seventh place on NIU’s all-time save leaders with nine.

Game three

Another big inning put Central Michigan on top as it went on to win 15-2 Sunday.

After scoring two runs to open up the game, the Chippewas went on to score seven runs in the third inning and never looked back as they kept building on their lead until they stretched it out

The Huskies did manage to plate a pair of runs but were never able to create a big inning of their own. After walking the bases loaded with just one out in the fifth, Sisler hit a sacrifice fly to drive in redshirt senior Nate Ruzich. In the eighth, freshman Brad Wood singled home redshirt senior Micah McCulloch.