NIU baseball: Huskies drop extra-innings affair to No. 17 Iowa

By Steve Shonder

Baseball (15-25 5-10) had enough solid pitching to hold on for 11 innings, but the No. 17 Iowa Hawkeyes (27-11) managed a walk-off walk to snag a 4-3 win Wednesday in Iowa City, Iowa.

“We pitched very well,” said head coach Mike Kunigonis. “We did a good job on the mound. They were getting a little bit better every time they went out there.”

The Hawkeyes put a two-spot on the board in the fourth to regain the lead after the Huskies took a one-run lead. Right after Kris Goodman scored on a double-play, Eric Schenck-Joblinske homered to right to give Iowa the lead.

The Huskies weren’t down for long, coming right back in the fifth. Junior second baseman Justin Fletcher, who reached on an error to open the inning, scored on a sacrifice fly by redshirt junior Tony Brandner. Junior shortstop Brian Sisler doubled home junior catcher Johnny Zubek to give NIU a slim one-run lead later in the inning.

Iowa “went out and scored two runs, and we answered with two,” Kunigonis said. “I thought we did a good job of answering, and I thought we did a good job of continuing to battle. We haven’t done that well recently — answering runs — but we answered well today, at least in that inning.”

The lead wouldn’t hold up as the Hawkeyes rallied in the ninth. Jake Mangler, who doubled to open the inning against sophomore Andrew Frankenreider, came around to score on a two-out single by pinch-hitter Dan Potempa.

In the bottom of the 11th, the Hawkeyes loaded the bases setting up Schenck-Joblinske, who worked the count full and then drew the walk-off walk. The walk was Frankenreider’s 11th of the season.

At the plate

Zubek went 2-4 and scored two of the Huskies’ three runs.

Sisler went 1-3 with two walks. His lone hit was a double in the fifth inning that gave the Huskies a one-run lead.

On the mound

After Iowa scored two runs in the fourth, freshman Donovin Sims came on to toss four shutout innings. Sims limited the Hawkeyes to just two hits and sent them down in order in the sixth and seventh innings.

“He had a pretty decent outing last week, and I think that gave him a lot of confidence,” Kunigonis said. “His change up was working for him really well. It’s amazing when you have confidence in yourself and confidence in your stuff how much better you become.”

Freshman starting pitcher Kevin Jones threw four innings, allowing just two runs off three hits. Jones struck out two and walked two.

Next up

The Huskies will play in their first home series since April 5 when they host the Eastern Michigan Eagles (16-24, 6-9 MAC) in a three-game series. The first game is scheduled for 3:05 Friday with games two and three scheduled for 1:05 Saturday and Sunday, respectively, at Ralph McKinzie Field.