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    'Cats Hold Off Cougars in 3-2 Win

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM J.A. Happ threw six complete innings of one-run baseball
    J.A. Happ threw six complete innings of one-run baseball

    Feb. 13, 2004

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    PHOENIX, Ariz. - The Northwestern baseball team evened its record at 1-1 with a 3-2 victory over Washington State Friday afternoon at Papago Park in Phoenix, Ariz. Pitching and timely hitting were the difference in the game.

    With one out and the score tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth inning, head coach Paul Stevens called for a hit-and-run with junior Jon Mikrut at the plate. Mikrut executed the call and belted a run-scoring double to the left centerfield wall, scoring Mark Ori and giving NU the 3-2 lead. Mikrut pitched the eighth and ninth innings for the win.

    It wasn't all roses for Mikrut, however.

    In the eighth, Northwestern was clinging to a 2-1 lead when Mikrut moved from his shortstop position to the mound. After giving up a leadoff double, the Cougar shortstop executed a perfect sacrifice bunt putting the tying run 90-feet from home. Mikrut struck out the next hitter before giving up a single, which allowed WSU to tie the game. Mikrut induced a fly ball to end the inning, setting up his offensive heroics.

    Junior J.A. Happ started on the mound for NU, giving up a single run on four hits and striking out five. Happ pitched a perfect sixth-inning before giving way to junior Chris Hayes. Hayes, pitching in his second-straight game, pitched a near perfect eight inning, giving up just one walk. After walking 12 batters in the season opener, NU hurlers walked only two in the nine-inning contest.



    Offensively, sophomore Dan Brauer got the Wildcat bats rolling in the second inning, leading off with a single to left-centerfield. He advanced 90 feet on a Cougar passed ball and reached third on Jason Krynski's groundout to second base. Anthony Wycklendt, who had four RBIs in the season opener, plated Brauer with another groundout to second, giving NU a 1-0 lead.

    The Cougars answered with one run of their own in the bottom of the fifth, as Happ pitched his way out of a jam. Giving up a leadoff triple, followed by an RBI double, Happ buckled down, striking out two of the next three hitters. A lazy fly ball to left, not deep enough to advance the runner to second, was sandwiched between the two Ks.

    The Wildcats responded with a run in the top of the next inning, as freshman Caleb Fields led off the inning with his first collegiate hit. Fields beat an errant throw to first, which allowed him to advance to second, putting him scoring position. Senior Josh Lieberman laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, setting up Ori's sacrifice fly to right field. The Ori sacrifice gave NU a 2-1 lead.

    The score remained 2-1 Northwestern until the eighth, setting up Mikrut's heroics in the ninth.

    The Wildcats are next in action when they take on San Francisco at 10 a.m. at Municipal Stadium, where the back-to-back American League Champion Oakland A's play their spring training games.

    * The Missouri game, set for 9 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, has been changed. NU will compete against the University of British Columbia at 2:30 instead.

    * After giving up 12 walks and hitting three batsmen in the season opener, NU walked only two Washington State Cougars and hit none.

    * Sophomore Anthony Wycklendt has five RBI in the first two games of the season and is hitting .500 (4-for-8) with two triples and a double.