Huskies fail to pickup win over four-game weekend

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James Krause, Sports Editor

DeKALB — The baseball team’s losing streak extends to eight after a pair of losses to the Rice University Owls and the Kansas State University Wildcats in a round-robin meeting in Houston, Texas.

The Huskies’ offense struggled to get runs all weekend, topping out at 10 runs over all four games. Head Coach Mike Kunigonis said the offensive struggles will turn around in due time.

“We have battled against some extremely tough opponents,” Kunigonis said in an NIU Athletics news release Saturday. “Our defense is starting to play at a high level and we’re receiving some of the best starting pitching I’ve seen in a long time. Our offense is due to bust out in a huge way.”

 

Friday against Kansas State: Wildcats 4, Huskies 3

Through five innings, neither team was able to score a run with the starting pitchers playing lights out to start. By the time he was pulled, junior pitcher Michael Lasiewicz pitched a scoreless seven innings while striking out four batters. 

Kansas State senior pitcher Kasey Ford pitched six innings and struck out five before exiting the game. It wasn’t until the sixth when Ford allowed the contest’s first run off a home run by senior outfielder Matt Barnes.

Lasiewicz was pulled after allowing a double in the eighth. An ensuing sacrifice fly allowed Kansas State to tie the game heading into the ninth at 1-1.

The Huskies took a 3-1 lead in the top half of the inning off a pair of RBI doubles by senior catcher Jake Dunham and sophomore infielder Paddy McKermitt. 

Junior pitcher Kyle Seebach put the first two batters on for the Wildcats, both coming home on a 2-RBI single by sophomore outfielder Dylan Phillips to tie the game at 3-3. Seebach walked the next two batters in hopes of getting out of the inning on a double play. Junior catcher Dylan Caplinger beat out a throw at first, allowing Phillips to score and walk-off for the Wildcats.

 

Friday against Rice: Owls 6, Huskies 3

The Huskies and Owls scored a run in the third, with the Huskies executing a double steal that got first-year infielder Jack Blazevich to steal home. The Owls responded with a home run by first-year outfielder Guy Garibay to tie the game.

The Owls exploded in the fifth inning, scoring four runs to take a 5-1 lead. Owls sophomore infielder Justin Dunlap, redshirt senior infielder Braden Comeaux, redshirt senior outfielder Bradley Gneiting and Garibay all hit for RBIs in the fifth.

The Huskies rebounded in the seventh, first with Blazevich flying out to bring home Dunham. Another run scored on a balk by the Owls. It would be the last score of the game for NIU.

First-year pitcher Reed Gallant earned a save for his two and two-third innings of relief work for the Owls where he struck out four batters.

 

Saturday against Kansas State: Wildcats 3, Huskies 1 (10 innings)

Sophomore pitcher Brandon McPherson may have given up a home run in the top of the first, but still had arguably his best start to date. Following the first-inning homer by KSU junior outfielder Zach Kokoska, McPherson struckout nine and didn’t allow another run in his eight innings of work.

After a six-inning shutout start thanks to KSU redshirt sophomore pitcher Carson Seymour, the Huskies were able to tie the game in the seventh. Redshirt senior infielder Kam Smith tripled off KSU first-year pitcher Brett Wozniak and then scored on a wild pitch to tie the game 1-1.

The tie carried into extra innings, when the Wildcats went up 3-1 with a two-run homer by Phillips with two outs. NIU was unable to put anyone on base, let alone score, in the bottom half of the inning on their way to the loss.

 

Saturday against Rice: Owls 4, Huskies 1

The Huskies starting pitcher, first-year Connor Langreder, only went four innings in his third start of the year. Langreder allowed five hits and four walks but only one run in the second.

The Owls truly got the jump on the Huskies with two more runs in the fifth. Rice scored with a pair of RBI singles from redshirt senior infielder Will Karp and junior infielder Hal Hughes.

After senior infielder Cade Edwards added another in the sixth, the Huskies continued to go scoreless until the ninth when first-year catcher Jacob Schroeder singled to score. 

The Huskies have dropped to 1-10 on the season to end their pre-conference schedule. NIU starts its Mid-American Conference schedule with a four-game series against the Kent State University Golden Flashes in Kent, Ohio. The series opens 2 p.m. CST Friday.