Huskies finish off Bradley with 14-1 win

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NIU baseball players Tom Kotis, left, congratulates teammate Troy White during a game earlier in the season. The NIU baseball team just beat Bradley, 14-1.

By Andrew Singer

A coach knows his team is clicking when his fourth starter goes seven innings and strikes out nine.

NIU head coach Ed Mathey joyfully watched on Tuesday night as his Huskies rolled over Bradley 14-1 in a game called after seven innings in Peoria. Both teams agreed to call the game if one team was ahead by 10 or more after seven.

Starting pitcher Jake Hermsen dominated the Bradley hitters, giving up only one run. The junior kept NIU (20-18 overall, 10-5 MAC) atop the MAC West standings. Alex Jones, reigning MAC West Player of the Week, went 4-for-4 with one double, one triple and five RBI.

Jones and the NIU offense jumped out of the gate in Peoria, scoring four runs in the top of the first. After Jones and Troy White knocked in solitary runs, freshman designated hitter Jeff Zimmerman blasted a two-run homer (5) to right-center field. Given a lead to work with, Hermsen went out in the bottom of the first looking to merely contain the Bradley (20-19) offense. Little did he know, he would enjoy the best start of his season thus far.

“We know that Jake is capable of having starts like these,” Mathey said. “He has struggled at times this year, but if we continue to get this kind of effort from Jake we are going to be in a very good position.”

Entering Tuesday’s game, Hermsen had an 0-2 record in six starts and had an ERA approaching 10. Against the Braves, though, Hermsen put together a performance that conjured up images of his 10-strikeout outing at Iowa on April 22, 2010.

In continued support of Hermsen, Jones added an RBI single in the second. The junior then came through in the fourth with a two-run triple to right-center field. For good measure, Jones knocked in his fifth RBI of the day with a single to center field that scored Marvin Sanchez.

“Right now I’m just locked in at the plate,” Jones said. “And in first place, it’s just a different feeling on the team than in past years. We have a swagger right now.”