Huskies heading home to face RedHawks

By Andrew Singer

Winners of 11 of their last 16 games, the NIU baseball Huskies will take on Miami (OH) in a three-game set over the weekend.

Starting at 3:05 p.m. this afternoon at Ralph McKinzie Field, this weekend’s series represents the last three games of a five-game home stand for NIU (11-15 overall, 4-2 MAC). The Huskies went 1-1 during the week, losing to Illinois State 7-4 on Tuesday and beating Bradley 8-5 on Wednesday.

Zach Oates will likely take the hill this afternoon for NIU. The right-hander will face a Miami team (15-14, 4-2) that is fresh off two wins against Big Ten teams, taking down Indiana on Tuesday and besting Ohio State on Wednesday.

Marcus Makuch leads the RedHawks at the plate with a .387 average and a .545 average against MAC opponents this season. Also, in the middle of the RedHawk lineup is Bryce Redeker, who has hit safely in 21 of Miami’s last 23 games.

Having collected a 3.83 ERA in six starts this season, Oates may be the best way to slow down a hot-hitting Miami team.

With six errors in their last two games, though, NIU head coach Ed Mathey is more concerned about his team’s defense than its pitching.

“We can’t toss the ball around the way we did [against Illinois State and Bradley],” Mathey said. “A good team in Miami is coming in, and we need to drive the point home that we need to get better on defense.”

In the win over Bradley, a 6-1 lead shrunk late in the game when NIU pitcher Tom Zelasko came in for the eighth inning and gave up two runs and left two men on base. Kyle Glancy came in to record the final out of the eighth and set down the Braves in the ninth for his fourth save of the season.

Mathey gladly took the win, but said he believes the Huskies got lucky in some sense against the Braves.

“You try to figure this game out, but you can’t,” Mathey said. “In the ninth inning, our second baseman was brought right to the bag by a stealing runner on a ground ball up the middle. But he shouldn’t have been there because we weren’t holding on the runner.”

Games on Saturday and Sunday against the RedHawks will begin at 1:05 p.m.