illinois Digital News

Huskies Battle, Fall Short In Series Opener Against Miami


DeKALB, IL – The Northern Illinois University baseball team had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth on Friday afternoon against the Miami RedHawks at Ralph McKinzie Field, but could not plate the tying runs in a 4-2 loss.
“That was a good baseball game, but we just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it,” said head coach Mike Kunigonis. “That’s what Fridays are supposed to look like in our league. Both team’s number ones going at it in a close, tight ballgame. Miami did a little better job of getting a big hit when then needed it.”
Miami (10-13, 6-6 MAC) scored first on a Zach MacDonald sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the top of the first, scoring the leadoff man JJ Woolwine to give the RedHawks a 1-0 lead. Kyle Seebach (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle Twp.) hit the next batter, but escaped the inning by getting Parker Lester to ground out to end the frame. NIU’s senior lefty starter got out of another bases loaded jam in the top of the third, getting William Escala to fly out to put a zero on the scoreboard. The RedHawks extended their lead in the top of the fourth on a Cole Andrews two-run home run that made the score 3-0.
NIU (4-19, 4-7 MAC) left two runners on base in both the third and fourth innings. Malik Peters (Calumet City, Ill./Mount Carmel) hit a single with one out in the fourth and got to third on two-out Aaron Harper (Hemet, Calif./Mt. San Jacinto College) double down the left field line. Miami starting pitcher Jonathan Brand got Paddy McKermitt (Hampshire, Ill./Burlington Central) to ground out to end the NIU threat.
The Huskies got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Andre Demetral (Rochester, Mich./Florence Darling Tech) led off with a home run over the left field fence. NIU had a chance to tie the game in the sixth. Peters was hit by a Brand pitch leading off the inning. After a flyout, Harper singled to left field. McKermitt then dropped a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position at second and third. Brand got out of the inning by striking out Demetral, keeping the score at 3-1.
NIU closed within a run in the bottom of the eighth. With Harper at first and two outs, Demetral reached on an error to keep the inning alive. Eric Erato (Sussex, Wis./Sussex Hamilton) laced a single through the left side to drive in Harper and make the score 3-2. Barnes was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Carlos Aranda (Santo Domingo, D.R./Ellsworth CC) was struck out by Miami’s Luke Leverton to end the inning.
Miami got an insurance run in the top of the ninth when a David Novak squeeze bunt scored Andrews to make the score 4-2. NIU had a chance to at least tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. Peters drew a one-out walk from Patrick Mastrian, followed by back-to-back singles from Harper and Mason Kelley (Mt. Washington, Ky./Schoolcraft College). Mastrian closed the game by getting both Demetral and Paxton Kennedy (Mendota, Ill./Illinois Valley CC) to fly out and lock up the 4-2 win for the RedHawks.
Harper was 4-for-5 in the game with a run scored. Kelley and Matt Barnes (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC) both had a pair of hits. Seebach allowed three runs on six hits in 5.1 innings, walking three while striking out four.
NIU and Miami will play a single nine-inning game Saturday at Ralph McKinzie Field. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. The two teams will wrap up the weekend with a doubleheader Sunday, which will also start at 12 p.m. CT.

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