Eight homers mark NIU-UNI split

By Todd McMahon

On a day more suited for Charlie Sadler’s NIU football team, NIU and the University of Northern Iowa still managed to get in two baseball games Tuesday.

The Huskies and Panthers went at each other in pigskin fashion at McKinzie Field, aided by a fierce wind blowing straight out to left field. NIU (6-14) took game one by a tally of 17-7, but Northern Iowa (10-15) took the nightcap, 20-11.

The 17 runs produced by the Huskies in the opener were the most for Joe “Spanky” McFarland’s team since the program’s resurrection last year.

NIU turned the tables in its home opener by striking for the big inning, unlike what had happened in recent losses by the Huskies. As a matter of fact, NIU used two big innings to put away Northern Iowa in game one.

After NIU starting pitcher Josh Brown (1-1) escaped the first inning by just giving up a leadoff home run to Mark Pasqualini, the Huskies exploded for 11 runs in their first two appearances at the plate.

Chip Paulsen, with a little help from the wind, hit a three-run home run to put NIU up 4-1 after the first inning. The Huskies exploded for seven more runs off John Thomas (1-2) in the second, highlighted by Dan Colluci’s three-run blast to left.

The game was called after Northern Iowa hit in the fifth due to the speedup rule—another name for the 10-run slaughter rule.

Paulsen finished the game with three hits and five RBI’s. Colluci and Mike Birsa (3-for-3, two doubles) each added four RBI’s.

In game two, Mike Young and the Huskies fell behind 5-0, but once again NIU exploded for seven runs in the second inning.

Paulsen started the barrage after one out with his third home run of the year and Birsa closed it out with a two-run shot over the left-field fence.

The Huskies led 10-8 after three innings but were held scoreless until their last at-bat in the seventh. The Panthers, aided by eight NIU errors for the game, stretched a slim two-run lead (12-10) to 20-10 with an eight-run outburst in the final inning.

The Panthers’ Marty Schimoeller put an exclamation point on the victory with a grand slam in the decisive seventh inning. Northern Iowa and NIU each hit four homers in the two games combined.

“We’re not going to fare too well when we get in a home run match like we did today,” McFarland said.

NIU will take its’ swinging bats on the road Thursday for a doubleheader with Wisconsin-Milwaukee.