NIU baseball: Huskies host Kent State for 3-game series

By Steve Shonder

What’s happening

Baseball (13-14, 4-2 MAC) will take on the Kent State Golden Flashes (14-11, 3-3 MAC) over the weekend. First pitch for game one is set for 3:05 p.m. Friday at Ralph McKenzie Field. Games two and three will begin at 1:05 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

This weekend’s series will be the first time Kent State has played in DeKalb since 2008.

The Huskies are coming off Tuesday’s 13-11 loss to the UW-Milwaukee Panthers, which saw NIU try to claw its way back from a 10-run deficit before coming up short in the ninth inning. The Huskies are hitting .342 over their last four games.

The Golden Flashes are in the midst of a four-game winning streak and are just as hot at the plate as the Huskies, hitting .338 as a team over the four-game span. In their latest outing, they knocked off the Penn State Nittany Lions, 9-7, Wednesday.

Probable pitchers

Game one will feature two of the MAC’s best starting pitchers in senior Ben Neumann and Nick Jensen-Clagg. Neumann is 4-1 on the season with a 2.88 ERA and is limiting opposing hitters to just a .207 batting average against. Jensen-Clagg is 4-3 with a 2.78 ERA and a conference-leading 54 strikeouts.

Game two will feature NIU senior Dirk Ormsby going up against Kent State left-hander Eric Lauer. Ormsby has been solid this season with a record of 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA. Lauer is 1-2 and has an ERA of 2.36.

NIU redshirt junior Seth Fuller will square off with Kent State’s Andy Ravel in the series finale Sunday. Fuller is 2-2 with an ERA of 3.73 this season, and he’ll potentially make his second-straight series finale start. Ravel is 3-1 with an ERA of 3.00.

The quote

“The effort level, without a doubt, is there,” said head coach Mike Kunigonis, following the 13-11 loss Tuesday. “We’re really close to being a really good team. We’re close, but we’re still working on it.”