Baseball suffers sweep over the weekend


NIU pitcher Tom Barry delivers a pitch during a game earlier in the season

By Andrew Singer

First place in the MAC West slipped from the grip of the NIU baseball team over the weekend, when Central Michigan swept the Huskies in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

NIU (20-21 overall, 10-8 MAC) was on the losing side of two close games to start the series, before ending the weekend with a 13-1 embarrassment.

Staff ace Zach Oates took the ball for the Huskies on Friday, and threw the ball fairly well for seven innings. The senior gave up five runs on 13 hits, keeping his team in the game. Brett Frantini socked a three-run homer to left field in the second that put the Huskies up 3-2. NIU added another run in the inning, giving Oates a two-run lead.

The lead slipped away in the bottom of the third inning when CMU (24-20, 12-6) put up three runs. The Huskies briefly took a 6-5 lead in the fifth on an Alex Jones fielder’s choice and a Joe Etcheverry single. The Chippewas tied the game in the eighth with a run, setting up a Robbie Harman walk-off suicide squeeze bunt in the ninth that scored Nate Theunissen from third.

“Robbie’s been bunting the ball pretty good,” said CMU head coach Steve Jaksa. “He got a ball he could handle, and Nate did a nice job getting a jump at third. They did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

After losing a relatively-high scoring 7-6 game on Friday, NIU switched it up on Saturday, dropping a 3-1 pitchers’ duel. Tom Barry threw six innings and gave up only two runs, but the Huskies’ bats were too cold to aid their pitcher.

Jeremy Gonzales came out on Sunday looking to salvage the series for NIU. The senior was unable to find the stuff that characterized his 26-inning scoreless streak from earlier in the year. Exiting in the second, Gonzales gave up two earned runs, seven total, on three hits.

“We just couldn’t get it this weekend, but the thing we talked about with our guys is that we just have to take care of our business the rest of the way,” said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. “There will be some trading places in the MAC West, before the end of the season.”