Baseball Hits the Road for Five-Game Series
Wildcats face Central Florida and Stetson.
Northwestern Wildcats (8-3)
at Central Florida Knights
March 21-23, 1998
at Stetson Hatters - DeLand, Fla.
March 24-25, 1998
The Wildcats, fresh off winter quarter final examinations, head south to face Central Florida and Stetson. Northwestern has not played since a 10-3 victory over St. Peters (N.J.) on March 9. NU carries a four-game winning streak into the Central Florida series.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Saturday - Chris Hargan (Sr., RHP, 1-0, 5.23 ERA)
Last: No Dec. vs. Boston Coll. (3.2 IP, 11H, 9R, 9ER, 3BB, 1K)
Sunday - Nick Franzese (Jr., RHP, 2-0, 3.68 ERA)
Last: W vs. Valparaiso (8.1 IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 2K)
Monday - Phil Rosengren (Jr., RHP, 0-1, 12.00 ERA)
Last: No Dec. vs. Wichita State (1.2 IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 1K)
Tuesday - John Seaman (Jr., RHP, 3-0, 2.61 ERA)
Last: W vs. Boston College (7 IP - CG, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 4K)
Wednesday - TBA
Head Coach Paul Stevens
Paul Stevens (Lewis, 1976) is in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, all of which have been at the helm of the Wildcat program. He currently owns a 274-291-4 career mark and a 114-164-1 record in Big Ten play. His 274 wins ranks second on the all-time NU list, behind only George McKinnons 304 wins from 1962-81. Stevens was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1995.
Records vs. Opponents
NU and Central Florida have met four times previously, with UCF leading the all-time series, 2-1-1. Stetson has won the only two meetings against Northwestern.
On Your Mark
This weekend begins a stretch of nine games in nine days for the Wildcats. After the Stetson series, NU returns home for the Big Ten opener against Ohio State. In all, the Cats will play 44 games in the next 50 days.
Stritch Hits for the Cycle
Fifth-year senior Mike Stritch hit for the cycle in NUs 11-6 victory over Grand Canyon on Feb. 21. He knocked a triple in the eighth inning to complete the cycle, and conclude the afternoon 5-for-5 with three runs and five RBIs.
Kurella Also Hits for the Cycle
Not to be outdone, freshman shortstop Jeremy Kurella also hit for the cycle in the first game of the Boston College twinbill on March 7. He was the second Wildcat in six games to accomplish the feat. Stritch hit for the cycle in the seasons third game while Kurella did so in the eighth game. Kurella singled in the first, homered in the third, tripled in the fourth and doubled in the fifth inning. He ended the game 4-for-4 with a walk, four runs scored and two RBIs.
Sophomore All-Big Ten Trio
Last year as freshmen, the trio of third baseman J.P. Williamson, first baseman/DH Patrick Thompson and right fielder Brian Baron took home third-team All-Big Ten honors. It marked the first time in NU history that three freshman had been named all-conference. Baron also earned third-team all-freshman honors from Collegiate Baseball.
Williamson finished fourth in the Big Ten last season with a .398 batting average during the conference season. Hitting in the leadoff spot, he finished second in the conference in on-base percentage during the Big Ten season (.527), was fourth in the conference in steals (eight) and fifth in walks (18).
Thompson battled a mid-season hamstring injury, but came back to lead the Wildcats and finish fifth in the conference in overall batting average (.379). Baron finished right behind him in sixth place with a .375 overall batting average.
Seaman Shutting Them Down
Junior righty John Seaman is off to a hot start. He has made five appearances this season, three as a starter and two out of the bullpen. He now has 57 career appearances as a Wildcat. The NU record is 83 by Brian Cummins.
Seaman has allowed an earned run in just one of his five outings, giving up six earned runs in 5.1 innings against Wichita State. His last appearance came on March 7 against Boston College. Seaman earned wins in both ends of the twinbill, pitching two-thirds of an inning to win the first game before shutting out the Eagles in game two. Opponents are batting just .160 off Seaman this year.
Way Back, That Ball is Gone
The Wildcats have hit 13 homers in their 11 games this season, a far cry from last year when NU managed just 23 homers in 55 games.
Nine players have at least one homer this year, with four of them (Joe Hietpas, Mike Stritch, Kris Musselman and Ollie Dunn) knocking two apiece. The difference also is shown in the teams slugging percentage. Last year, NUs slugging was .393. This years squad has a slugging percentage of .526.
Stritch Moving Up Home Run Charts
Fifth-year senior Mike Stritch is one of the best home run hitters in school history. He currently ranks second on the all-time school list with 26 career homers. Eric Mogentale set the record of 34 career homers from 1981-84. Stritch entered the year tied for second with Matt Huff and current New York Yankee catcher Joe Girardi.
Sunshine State Natives
Freshmen Jeremy Kurella and Wes Robinson both call the state of Florida home. Kurella hails from Dunedin (Dunedin HS) while Robinson is from Bradenton (St. Stephens HS).
Wildcat Pitching Corps Getting the Job Done
They may not be a flashy group, but this years pitching staff has done an excellent job over the first 11 games. As a staff, the Cats are holding opponents to a .241 batting average.
Senior Chris Hargan opened the year with a brilliant performance against Northern Iowa. Despite a no decision, Hargan allowed just seven hits and three earned runs over eight innings of work in that contest.
Two members of the current rotation served other roles last season. John Seaman had been the Wildcats closer the past two seasons, rarely pitching more than three innings. Nick Franzese was NUs starting catcher the last two seasons. Opponents are hitting just .160 off Seaman and .222 against Franzese.
Sophomore lefty Dan Padgett has come out of the bullpen twice, allowing just two hits in three innings. Another sophomore lefty, Ben Dodd, has four appearances out of the bullpen, allowing just one hit over 1.2 innings.
First Inning Prowess
The Wildcats have scored 15 first-inning runs this season, and at least one first-inning tally in eight of the 11 games. The Cats are 6-2 in those eight contests. Only South Alabama, Wichita State and Valparaiso have kept NU off the board in the first inning.
A Young Team
Twenty of the 30 players on the Northwestern roster are either freshmen or sophomores. In fact, there are only five seniors on this years squad: second baseman Ollie Dunn,
pitcher Chris Hargan, outfielder Ken Kilian, infielder Chris Pedersen and outfielder Mike Stritch. Kilian has a year of eligibility remaining after missing all of 1997 due to a hamstring injury.
Are You Ready For Some Baseball?
Three members of the NU baseball team also play football for the Wildcats. Freshman pitcher J.J. Standring is a punter, freshman pitcher Nick Kreinbrink plays quarterback while junior outfielder Kyle Sanders is a safety. All three have an opportunity to earn starting jobs on the gridiron next fall.
Where They Ranked
Heres where this years Wildcat returnees ranked among the Big Ten Conference leaders last year. The first Big Ten leaderboard will be released on March 23:
Batting (overall): Patrick Thompson - 5th (.379)
Brian Baron - 6th (.375)
Batting (Big Ten only): J.P. Williamson - 4th (.398)
Ollie Dunn - 14th (.349)
Hits (overall): Ollie Dunn - 11th (71)
Hits (Big Ten only): Ollie Dunn - t3rd (38)
Hits Per Game (Big Ten): Ollie Dunn - 5th (1.36)
Steals (overall): Bob Dainton - 4th (17-23)
J.P. Williamson - t9th (13-19)
Steals (Big Ten only): J.P. Williamson - 4th (8-11)
Chris Pedersen - t9th (5-8)
Walks (overall): J.P. Williamson - t8th (33)
Walks (Big Ten only): J.P. Williamson - 5th (18)
On-base% (overall): J.P. Williamson - 10th (.448)
On-base % (Big Ten only):J.P. Williamson - 2nd (.527)
ERA (Big Ten only): Charlie Williamson - 13th (4.25)
Appearances (overall): John Seaman - 1st (25)
Appearances (Big Ten): John Seaman - t1st (13)
Walks/9 inn. (overall): Chris Hargan - 5th (2.04)
Walks/9 inn. (Big Ten only): Chris Hargan - 4th (1.32)
Saves (overall): John Seaman - t2nd (6)
Saves (Big Ten only): John Seaman - t3rd (2)
NU Retires Joe Girardis Number 12
On Feb. 10, former Wildcat catcher and current New York Yankee Joe Girardi became the first Wildcat baseball player to have his number retired. The ceremony was done in conjunction with his induction into the Northwestern Athletics Hall of Fame.
Girardi ranks among the top-10 all-time at NU in batting average (.351), homers (24), games played (208), at-bats (646), hits (227), RBIs (156), doubles (45), walks (100) and total bases (364). Current senior Ollie Dunn, who started the season with No. 12, will be allowed to finish the season with that number before it is placed in permanent retirement.
Rocky Miller Park
Since Rocky Miller Park was renovated and rededicated in 1984, the Wildcats have compiled a 187-106-2 mark at home. In the last four seasons, NU is 71-40 at home.
Dimensions at Rocky Miller Park are 330 down the lines, 400 to straight away center field, 365 to the left field alley and 375 to the right field alley.
My How Things Have Changed
Theres a few changes to the scenery surrounding Rocky Miller Park. Just beyond the right field corner is the new indoor practice facility, a 60x85 yard multipurpose building completed in November. The Johnson Indoor Tennis Center was moved approximately 85 yards north from its previous location.
The two indoor facilities have forced the visitors bullpen to be moved from the first base line to behind the scoreboard in right field.