Huskies can’t beat the numbers

By Brian Wiencek

Statistically, most doubleheaders end up being split.

Predictably, the NIU baseball team fell into that numbers trap two times over the weekend. The Huskies split a twin bill with Valparaiso Saturday and Chicago State Sunday.

Saturday’s match-up with the Crusaders started out as a scheduled road game, but the snow in Valparaiso, Indiana, turned out to be an advantage for the Huskies.

Yet NIU fell victim to a come-from-behind attack by the Crusaders in game one at McKinzie Field, losing 6-3.

Behind pitcher Paul Schimbke, NIU led by three runs in as many innings before Valparaiso’s outburst.

The Crusaders cam back with two runs in the fourth inning, one in the fifth, and three in the seventh before NIU’s Brian Schmack came in relief to end the inning.

Game two saw NIU do a 360-degree turn as it crushed the Crusaders 12-3 – thanks to a seven-run, second inning. Sophomore Zach Zavac led the charge going 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI’s. Mark Mershon (1-for-3, 3 stolen bases, 3 runs) Chip Paulsen (2-for-3, 2 runs) and Mike Birsa (2 RBI’s) all chipped in for the Huskies.

The Huskies hosted Chciago State Unviersity yesterday and, once again, split the doubleheader 4-3 and 5-8.

“It’s just a matter of the same story, different day,” Huskie coach Joe “Spanky” McFarland said afterward. “We just can’t seem to put six hours of baseball together.”

The Huskies jumped out of the gate with two runs in the first inning of game one, aided by two errors by CSU’s shortstop James Garcia. The Cougars came back with one run in the second inning and two in the third before NIU tied it in the fifth on a Gre Gargani single.

In the seventh and final inning, NIU scored the winning run on a third error by Garcia. Pitcher Mike Young upped his record to 2-3 on the year.

In game two, the Cougars struck first behind a Gargani error. however, the one-run lead didn’t last long as the Huskeis came back with three rusn in the third behind singles by Gargani, Dan Colucci, and Tom O’Neill. The two teams went scoreless until disaster hit the Huskies in the fifth inning.

Chicago State took the lead for good as it scored five runs on six hits.

NIU pitcher Josh Brown dropped his record to 2-2, and the Huskies fell to 8-16 on the year.

“We just don’t have much in the way of confidence right now,” McFarland said. “We need a couple of people to step forward and lead us.”

McFarland and his gang travel to Peoria Wednesday to face the Bradley Braves.