Baseball earns first win of season at Ohio University

The Huskies beat the Bobcats in the second game of a doubleheader Friday to end their 12-game losing streak

Sophomore pitcher Caleb Pittman pitches during a game at Sacramento State Feb. 20 in Sacramento, California.

Courtesy Bob Solorio

Sophomore pitcher Caleb Pittman pitches during a game at Sacramento State Feb. 20 in Sacramento, California.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

The NIU baseball team opened Mid-American Conference play Friday in a doubleheader against the Ohio University Bobcats, earning its first win of the season in the second game of the day in Athens, Ohio.

How it happened

Game 1: Bobcats 10, Huskies 2 (7 inn.)

NIU began conference play on a positive note by putting up the first points on the board in Friday’s series-opening game against Ohio. Junior catcher Scott Combs singled up the middle in the first inning, allowing sophomore infielder Aaron Harper and senior outfielder Matt Barnes to score and put the Huskies up 2-0.

Ohio returned the favor shortly thereafter as Bobcats redshirt senior outfielder Spencer Harbert hit a home run in the bottom of the first inning. The run allowed Harbert and two other Bobcats to score, putting Ohio up 3-2 to end the first.

The remainder of Friday’s first game favored the Bobcats, who scored without any response from the Huskies. The game ended after seven innings with Ohio up 10-2 on the Huskies, leaving NIU with a bitter loss in its first game against a MAC opponent.

Game 2: Huskies 9, Bobcats 4

The Huskies began Friday’s second game in similar fashion to the first, this time jumping to a 7-0 lead in the first four innings of play. Each point of NIU’s early dominance came from seven different Huskie players.

The Bobcats weren’t able to score until the bottom of the fourth inning, when they tacked on a trio of runs to make it a 7-3 ball game heading into the fifth inning. 

Sophomore infielder Jack Blazevich and junior infielder Malik Peters closed out Huskie scoring Friday with their second runs of the day in the fifth and sixth innings respectively. A final run by Ohio senior catcher Mason Minzey allowed the game to end with a final score of 9-4 pointing in the Huskie’s favor. 

Thoughts from coach Kunigonis

On team’s first win of 2022:

“The first win is always the hardest to get,” head coach Mike Kunigonis said in an NIU Athletics news release. “I’m proud of these guys for how they battled today.”

On team’s strong performance in Game 2:

“Eric (Erato) set the tone with that leadoff home run and the boys never looked back from there,” Kunigonis said. “Reagan (Klawiter) gave us another great start. We did a great job grinding through today.”

The end result

The Huskie’s split of Friday’s doubleheader allowed them to get into the win column for the first time this season, bringing their record to 1-12 overall and 1-1 against conference opponents. Friday’s win marks their first since their 2021 season finale against Bowling Green State University on May 30, 2021. NIU defeated the Falcons 2-1 on the road in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Ohio left the opposite dugout Friday with their first loss at their home field, Bob Wren Stadium. The Bobcats sit at a 6-6 overall record and are 1-1 in MAC play.

The previously scheduled third and fourth games of the series were cancelled Sunday due to unexpected snowy weather conditions. The Huskies will return to action at the University of Akron Friday.