Huskies tame Cougars in shortened game


By Andrew Singer

Nine innings weren’t necessary to find the winner of Tuesday’s meeting between Chicago State and NIU at Ralph McKinzie Field.

The game was called after six-and-a-half innings with the Huskies in front 20-5. NIU head coach Ed Mathey and Chicago State head coach Michael Caston agreed before the game that if the Huskies (7-13 overall, 1-2 MAC) were in front by 10 or more runs halfway through the sixth inning, the game would be called.

“The NCAA wants you to play nine innings usually, but ending the game early is there for us as an option,” Mathey said. “And [Chicago State] asked about it at the start of the game considering it was a mid-week game and there are class schedules to keep in mind.”

NIU starting pitcher Tony Manville (2-1)  earned the win on Tuesday after giving up six hits and three runs over five innings. Chicago State starting pitcher Caleb Fialka exited in the second inning after letting in eight runs and walking six Huskies. The Cougars walked 14 NIU batters on the day.

At the plate, the Huskies were led by Alex Klonowski. The freshman went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI after pinch-hitting for leadoff man Alex Jones in the fourth inning with the Huskies comfortably in front. Usually on the mound for the Huskies, Klonowski hit a home run in only the sixth at bat of his college career.

“I don’t know what happened,” Klonowski said. “I just got a good pitch to hit, and I put a good swing on it.”

NIU started the scoring off with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Cougars (4-11) came back in the top of the second with a three-run rally that featured five hits and a throwing error by NIU right fielder Tom Kotis.

The Huskies responded in the bottom of the second with a seven-run outburst, keyed by three errors by the Cougars, four NIU hits, and three walks issued by Chicago State pitching.

Going into the top of the fifth leading by 12 runs, the Huskies knew as long as they stayed in front by 10 or more, the game would be over after the top of the seventh. NIU scored five more runs in the bottom of the sixth after Chicago State scored two in the top of the inning.

“Our kids did what they had to do offensively, but as a coach you are always looking forward to the next game, and I’m thinking that we can’t have the defensive effort we had today,” Mathey said of the Huskies’ six errors. “Tony [Manville] was doing what we asked to do today, putting the ball into play; our defense needs to respond better.”