Kent State bests NIU baseball in weekend series

By Brian Earle

In its first series of conference play, baseball lost two out of three games at the hands of Kent State.

The Huskies (5-17, 1-2 MAC) gave the Golden Flashes (8-12, 2-1 MAC) all they could handle in game one on Friday, as they fell 3-2.

Freshman pitcher Jordan Ruckman gave the best performance of his career on the mound as he did all he could to keep the Huskies in the game. Ruckman pitched 7.1 innings and struck out 10 batters, giving up just one walk and one earned run.

“He’s been solid,” said coach Ed Mathey. “If we would be a little more productive offensively, he’d have a couple wins under his belt. His record does not diminish the way he’s thrown the ball for us.”

Kent State scored one run in both the first and second innings, while the Huskies scored one run in the bottom of the first when junior Alex Klonowski scored from third on a passed ball.

The Golden Flashes added one more run in the top of the eighth inning and the Huskies answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning. Junior Jeff Zimmerman doubled down the left field line, driving in junior Jamison Wells from third base.

The Huskies were unable to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning as the score remained the same, 3-2.

Junior pitcher Eli Anderson was the star of game two, as he pitched a complete game shutout in the Huskies’ 3-0 victory on Saturday. Anderson struck out eight batters and only gave up six hits and three walks.

It was the first complete game shutout for the Huskies since 2011 when Jeremy Gonzales shut out Miami (Ohio).

“That was a a huge effort from Eli Anderson,” Mathey said. “One of the better games that I’ve seen pitched here in quite some time… For him, he was throwing strikes down in the zone, he was working the corners, and then when he got ahead of guys he was getting them to chase some pitches out of the zone for strikeouts or weak ground-outs and fly balls.”

The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when freshman Brian Sisler drove home freshman Tommy Hook from second base on a single.

NIU added two insurance runs over the course of the game to secure its first victory in conference play.

After playing in two close, low-scoring games, game three had a much different feel to it.

The Golden Flashes got their bats out, recording 21 hits and beating the Huskies 13-1 to win the series.

“[Kent State] really they outplayed us in all phases of the game today,” Mathey said. “They definitely out-hit us, they out-pitched us and even out-defended us, so that’s disappointing.”