NIU baseball crumple under Illinois State


Second baseman Alex Beckmann dives for a ball in NIU’s 7-4 loss to Illinois State.

By Andrew Singer

DeKALB | Walks and wild pitches characterized a 7-4 loss to Illinois State for the NIU baseball team at Ralph McKinzie Field on Tuesday afternoon.

The Huskies (10-15 overall, 4-2 MAC) didn’t record their first hit until the sixth inning, and that didn’t bode well against an ISU team that came in hitting .300 as a team.

NIU starting pitcher Jake Hermsen – who entered the game with a 12.33 ERA in four starts – exited in the fifth inning after giving up six runs on seven hits and four walks. The Redbirds (20-7) started scoring early, knocking in a pair of runs in both the first and second inning. Both ISU runs in the second inning scored on wild pitches from Hermsen.

Designated hitter Jeff Zimmerman hit a three-run shot in the ninth inning to draw the Huskies within three runs. The freshman’s team-leading fourth home run of the season proved to be nothing more than a footnote, though.

“I think of their seven runs, and four of them resulted from walks,” said head coach Ed Mathey of the eight walks issued by NIU pitching. “We hit the three [run]-home run to make the game a little tighter in the ninth inning, but all of a sudden if you hit that three-run homer without giving up those four runs, you have a ball game.”

Hermsen endured one of the rougher outings of his season thus far, but the NIU offense did little to help its starting pitcher. ISU starter JD Learnard no-hit the Huskies through four innings before being lifted for Joe Claver. Mathey felt the Huskies were never in control of the game, largely because of the early work of Learnard.

The sophomore walked three in four innings, but often had the Huskies swinging at bad pitches in hitter’s counts. ISU head coach Mark Kingston explained his choice to take Learnard out with a no-hitter going.

“JD is going to be in our bullpen primarily this season, so we knew that we wanted to keep him fresh,” Kingston said. “After he left, though, all of our guys that came out of the bullpen did their job, doing their part for the win.”

The Huskies return to Ralph McKinzie Field this afternoon where they will meet the Bradley Braves at 3:35 p.m.