NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

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    March 31, 1998

    Baseball Rained Out on Tuesday

    'Cats Face NE Illinois on Wednesday

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Tuesday's baseball game between Northwestern and Wisconsin-Milwaukee has been cancelled due to rain. A makeup date has not been set. The Wildcats are scheduled to play at home tomorrow (Wed., April 1) at 3 p.m. vs. Northeastern Illinois.

    Northwestern Wildcats (13-7, 2-2 Big Ten)
    vs. Northeastern Illinois (5-11)
    April 1, 1998 - Rocky Miller Park

    Northwestern hosts Chicagoland rival Northeastern Illinois in a Wednesday nonconference tilt at Rocky Miller Park. NU is coming off a weekend split against last year's Big Ten tournament champion Ohio State. The Wildcats hit the road this weekend to face Illinois in a four-game series.

    Probable Starting Pitchers

    * Wednesday - Nick Kreinbrink (Fr., LHP, 1-2, 4.85 ERA)
    Last: L 16-4 at Stetson (5.0 IP, 9H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 2K)

    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 279-295-4 career mark and a 116-166-1 record in Big Ten play. His 279 wins rank second on the all-time NU list, behind only George McKinnon's 304 wins from 1962-81. Stevens was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1995.

    Seaman Named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week
    John Seaman was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on Monday. Last week, he went 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA, earning victories in all three appearances.

    On Monday, he pitched three shutout innings in relief at Central Florida, allowing just two hits as NU won in 10 innings, 8-7. On Wednesday at Stetson, he allowed just one hit over four shutout innings to lead NU to a 10-8 victory. Sunday against OSU, he scattered nine hits and allowed just three earned runs as the Wildcats defeated the Buckeyes, 6-4. All three opponents qualified for last season's NCAA Regionals.

    Record vs. Northeastern Illinois
    Today marks the 36th all-time meeting between the schools, with Northwestern holding a 24-11 series lead. The teams split last year, with NU winning 7-3 on April 16 while Northeastern Illinois earned a 10-5 win on May 6.

    You'd Better Try and Win Big
    Northwestern is 7-1 this season in games decided by two runs or less. The only blemish was a 5-4 loss to Southeastern Louisiana. NU is 3-1 this year in one-run games (def. South Alabama, Boston College and Central Florida) and is 3-0 in two-run games (def. No. Iowa, Central Florida and Stetson).

    Time Change for the Illinois Series
    The starting times for Northwestern's games on Friday and Saturday at Illinois have been changed. Friday's single game will begin at 2:05 p.m., with Saturday's doubleheader starting at 12:05 p.m. Sunday's single game remains at 1:05 p.m.

    Rocky Miller Park
    The 1998 season marks the 40th anniversary of Rocky Miller Park, and the 15th since it was renovated and rededicated. Wildcat baseball has been played at the same site since 1943, but the field wasn't officially dedicated until 1958.

    Since Rocky Miller Park was renovated and rededicated in 1984, the Wildcats have compiled a 194-110-2 (.637) mark at home. Since 1993, NU has gone 78-44 (.639) 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.

    Ohio State Series Recap
    The Wildcats opened the Big Ten season last Friday with a 15-9 victory over Ohio State. The last time NU won the Big Ten opener was 1995, a 4-0 decision at Purdue. The Wildcats finished that season 15-13 in the conference and qualified for the Big Ten Tournament.

    NU controlled Friday's game from the outset as leadoff man Ken Kilian hit a homer to left field on the first pitch. The 'Cats led 14-1 before the Buckeyes put eight runs on the board in the sixth inning. Eight of the nine Wildcat starters collected at least one base hit and one RBI. Seven of the starters had at least two hits as NU pounded 21 as a team.

    Saturday was a different day as the Buckeye pitchers kept NU off the basepaths. NU managed just six hits in the doubleheader, two of which came by catcher Joe Hietpas in game one. Phil Rosengren tossed a complete game in the nightcap.

    Sunday was a matchup of two undefeated pitchers: NU's John Seaman and OSU's Andy Lee. The game went back-and-forth until the bottom of the seventh, when Brian Baron knocked a two-RBI triple off the center field wall to give NU a 5-3 lead. Seaman was relieved by Charlie Williamson in the top of the ninth. With the tying run on first and one out, Williamson retired Mark Carek and Dan Seimetz (both of whom made first-team All-Big Ten last season) for the final two outs of the game.

    Stritch Hits for the Cycle
    Fifth-year senior Mike Stritch hit for the cycle in NU's 11-6 victory over Grand Canyon on Feb. 21. He knocked a triple in the eighth inning to complete the cycle, and concluded 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 season's 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.

    Seaman Shutting Them Down
    Junior righty John Seaman is off to a hot start. He has made nine appearances this season, four as a starter and five out of the bullpen. He currently leads the Big Ten in wins (six), is second in lowest opponent average (.194) and is fourth in ERA (2.87).

    Seaman has allowed an earned run in just three of his nine outings. He has picked up the win in five of his last six appearances. On March 7 vs. Boston College, Seaman earned wins in both ends of the doubleheader. His game-by-game stats are below:

    Date/Opponent           W/L IP      H   R   ER  BB  K
    2/19 vs. No. Iowa       ND  1.0     0   0   0   0   2
    2/22 vs. Texas Tech     W   6.2     4   2   0   3   3
    2/28 vs. Wichita St.    ND  5.1     5   6   6   2   0
    3/7 vs. Boston Coll.    W   0.2     0   0   0   0   0
    3/7 vs. Boston Coll.    W   7.0*    3   1   0   0   4
    3/22 at Central Fla.    ND  2.0     3   3   3   1   1
    3/23 at Central Fla.    W   3.0     2   0   0   0   3
    3/25 at Stetson         W   4.0     1   0   0   1   2
    3/29 vs. Ohio State     W   8.0     9   4   3   2   4
    * indicates complete game

    Seaman Moving Up the Appearance Chart
    With his nine appearances on the mound this year, John Seaman now has 61 career appearances as a Wildcat, moving him into fourth place on the all-time NU chart.

    The list:
    (1) Brian Cummins, 83 from 1992-95; (2) Josh Levey, 75 from 1994-97; (3) Jason Wallace, 69 from 1983-86; (4) John Seaman, 61 from 1996-present.

    Way Back, That Ball is Gone
    The Wildcats have hit 21 homers in their 20 games this season, unlike last year when NU managed just 23 homers in 55 games. In fact, 12 players have at least one homer this year. The difference also is shown in the team's slugging percentage. Last year, NU's slugging was .393. This year's squad has a slugging percentage of .513.

    Stritch Moving Up Home Run Charts
    Fifth-year senior Mike Stritch currently ranks second on the all-time school list with 27 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.

    Hietpas Shining Early
    Freshman catcher Joe Hietpas is off to a good start in his first season as a Wildcat. He currently leads the team in hitting (.419), homers (five), slugging (.860) and on-base percentage (.500) and is tied for third in RBIs (14).

    But you won't find him among the Big Ten leaders in average. The reason: he is seven at-bats shy of the minimum required to qualify. If he did qualify for batting average, Hietpas would rank seventh and he would be second in slugging percentage. He does, however, rank tied for sixth in the Big Ten in homers with five.

    First Inning Prowess
    The Wildcats have scored 16 first-inning runs this season, and at least one first-inning tally in nine of the 20 games. The 'Cats are 7-2 when scoring in the first inning.

    No Homers, Just Double Plays
    The Wildcats have turned 28 double plays in 20 contests this season, tops in the Big Ten. Also, Wildcat pitchers have allowed just 12 homers thus far, tied with Iowa for the fewest in the conference. However, NU has played 20 games while Iowa has just 15 games.

    Tough Schedule
    This year's early-season schedule is definitely one of the toughest of any team in the nation. Of the first 13 opponents NU faced this season, six of them (Texas Tech, Central Florida, South Alabama, Wichita State, Stetson and Ohio State) earned a berth into last year's NCAA regionals. The Wildcats won more than their share of those contests, going a combined 7-5 against those teams.

    A Young Team
    Twenty of the 30 players on the Northwestern roster are either freshmen or sophomores. There are only five seniors on this year's 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 Rank
    Here's where the Wildcats rank among the Big Ten leaders:

    Hitting
    Triples:    Jeremy Kurella - t1st (4)
                Brian Baron and Ken Kilian - t5th (2)
    Doubles:    Mike Stritch - t4th (8)
    Home Runs:  Joe Hietpas - t6th (5)
    RBI:        Patrick Thompson - t7th (23)
    Steals:     Ken Kilian - t9th (7)
    Pitching
    Wins:       John Seaman - 1st (6)
    Saves:      Charlie Williamson - t2nd (2)
    ERA:        John Seaman - 4th (2.87)
    Innings Pitched:    John Seaman - 7th (37.2)
    Team
    Fielding:   4th (.962 pct.)
    Hitting:    4th (.330)
    Pitching:   7th (5.87 ERA)
    

    NU Retires Joe Girardi's 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.

    Hitting Profiles

    #1 Kris Musselman (So.) - Has hit two homers this season after none in his freshman campaign ... Has three multiple-hit efforts this season, including a 3-for-5 performance with a homer and four RBIs against Wichita State ... Has hit safely in three-straight games.

    #4 Mike Stritch (Sr.-5) - Ranks second on the all-time NU home run chart with 27 ... Second on the team in RBIs (19) ... Has hit safely in 15 of 20 games this season ... Hit for the cycle against Grand Canyon ... Also went deep against St. Peter's ... Missed last season with a torn ACL.

    #7 J.P. Williamson (So.) - Had a 12-game hitting streak during March, the longest by a Wildcat this year ... Has five multiple-hit efforts, including three hits against Texas Tech and St. Peter's ... Leads the Wildcat regulars with a .478 on-base percentage ... Third-team All-Big Ten as a freshman.

    #10 Chris Pedersen (Sr.) - Opened the season with two hits in each of his first three games ... Hit 4-for-10 against Ohio State ... Has five multiple-hit games this season.

    #12 Ollie Dunn (Sr.) - Starting second baseman in all 20 games ... One of three Wildcats (Thompson, Kurella) to start every game ... Started the last 95 contests for NU dating back to his sophomore season ... Has hit safely in 17-of-20 contests, including eight multiple-hit efforts ... Went 4-for-5 with a homer, three runs scored and two RBIs in the first Ohio State game.

    #17 Bob Dainton (So.) - Reserve outfielder ... Has hit safely in nine of his 16 contests, including a 2-for-4 performance against Northern Iowa ... Also went 3-for-4 in game two vs. Stetson.

    #19 Kevin Ciarrachi (So.) - Sharing starting catcher duties with Joe Hietpas ... NU is 6-3 when Ciarrachi starts this season ... Two of his four base hits have been doubles.

    #22 Patrick Thompson (So.) - Started all 20 contests, 16 at DH and the last four at first base ... Third-team All-Big Ten at DH last year ... Has hit safely in 15 of 20 contests ... Had an 11-game hitting streak during March, during which he hit .477 with 17 RBIs ... Lone homer of the year came in game two vs. Boston College ... Has a team-high 10 multiple-hit and six multiple-RBI efforts on the year ... Went 4-for-4 with four RBIs in game one vs. BC, and 3-for-4 with three RBIs in game two.

    #23 Ken Kilian (Sr.) - Started 16 games in the outfield ... Went 4-for-7 in the season opener against Northern Iowa ... Leads the team with seven steals ... Also went 3-for-5 in game one vs. Boston College ... Hit a homer on the first pitch of the game off OSU's Justin Fry, last season's Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.

    #33 Joe Hietpas (Fr.) - Started 11 games at catcher ... Has six multiple hit efforts ... Hit first collegiate homer against Texas Tech ... Leads the team with five homers and has a team-high .860 slugging percentage ... Nine of his 18 hits have gone for extra bases.

    #35 Brian Baron (So.) - Started the first six contests in right field ... Hit safely in five of those games, four of which were multiple-hit efforts ... Went 4-for-8 with two doubles and a triple in the season opener against Northern Iowa ... Had a two-RBI triple to lead NU to a 6-4 win over Ohio State.

    #44 Jeremy Kurella (Fr.) - Has started all 20 contests at shortstop, with eight multiple-hit efforts ... Tied for the team lead with Patrick Thompson with six multiple-RBI games ... Went 6-for-7 in the Boston College twinbill ... Leads the team in runs scored (20) and is tied for second on the squad in extra base hits (nine).

    Pitching Profiles

    #2 Dan Padgett (So., LHP) - Appeared five times out of the bullpen ... Allowed just one walk and no hits in 1.1 innings against Boston College.

    #13 Charlie Williamson (Jr., RHP) - Made seven appearances out of the bullpen ... Earned two saves in the Ohio State series ... Threw 4.2 shutout innings against the Buckeyes.

    #15 Chris Hargan (Sr., RHP) - NU has won four of his five starts ... Earned wins vs. South Alabama and Ohio State ... Against Northern Iowa, allowed just three earned runs over eight innings in a no decision ... Tossed a six-hit complete game victory against South Alabama ... Allowed two unearned runs with one walk and five strikeouts in that game.

    #21 Nick Franzese (Jr., RHP) - Made five starts ... Pitched at least eight innings in two of those starts ... Pitched 8.0 innings in the win against Grand Canyon and 8.1 in the win over Valparaiso.

    #25 J.J. Standring (Fr., RHP) - Has come out of the bullpen nine times and started the final Stetson game ... Received a save in the St. Peter's contest.

    #26 John Seaman (Jr., RHP) - Made nine appearances, including four starts ... Leads the Big Ten with a 6-0 record and his 2.87 ERA is the fourth-lowest in the Big Ten ... Picked up wins in both games of the Boston College doubleheader ... Holding opponents to a .194 batting average.

    #32 Ben Dodd (So., LHP) - Made seven appearances out of the bullpen ... Longest outing was 1.1 shutout innings vs. Central Florida on March 22, allowing just one hit and one walk.

    #99 Nick Kreinbrink (Fr., LHP) - Made five appearances this year, starting twice ... Earned the win vs. St. Peter's, throwing five shutout innings ... Allowed just three hits and fanned four batters in that contest.