COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Offense dominated the day in the first game of a three-game series between Northwestern and Tennessee Tech, but unfortunately the Golden Eagles had a bit more than the Wildcats. TTU won the opener at Bush Stadium Friday, 11-7.
The contest featured a combined 18 runs and 21 hits. The two sides combined for five defensive errors, with three of the four plaguing the 'Cats.
The Wildcats got off to a fast start by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning, all without recording a hit. Walker Moses was hit by a pitch to open the ballgame and he made second on a wild pitch from Tennessee Tech starter Jacob Honea. Honea then proceeded to issue three consecutive bases on balls with the third, to Joe Hoscheit, bringing in a run.
Honea was lifted after facing just four batters. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week did his job two batters later when he hit a sacrifice fly to left field, which allowed Jack Livingston to score and stake NU to a 2-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles answered right away as they struck for three runs in the bottom of the first to take their first lead of the afternoon. NU starter Joe Schindler walked the leadoff man, but settled down to induce back-to-back fly outs. With two away, TTU produced a single and back-to-back doubles to score a total of three times before Schindler got a ground ball to end the frame.
Shortstop Cody Stevens opened NU's half of the second inning with an infield single before Nick Linne ripped a base hit of his own to left field. Moses sacrificed both 'Cats up 90 feet and Scott Heelan drove Stevens home to tie the game at 3-3.
In the bottom of the inning, Schindler retired the first batter on a fly ball to Moses in center field, but then Tennessee Tech responded once again. A Northwestern error, a single and another double brought two mores around to score and gave the home team a slim two-run advantage once the stanza finally came to an end.
The early scoring surge briefly subsided when neither team was able to push across a run in the third inning. Northwestern went right back at it in the top of the fourth, however. Reid Hunter reached on an error and advanced to second base on the play. Stevens stepped up and sent a base hit up the middle that allowed Hunter to score. Three batters later Heelan followed the same script as his second-inning at-bat and hit an RBI ground out to shortstop that's plated Stevens and knotted the score at 5-5.
The Wildcats tacked on another run when Livingston drew his second walk in three plate appearance; the pitch not only missed the plate, but it was wild and allowed Linne to scoot home from third base to give the lead back to the 'Cats at 6-5.
Tennessee Tech scored once in the fourth to tie the game and right fielder Brandon Thomasson opened the bottom of the fifth with a home run to left field that gave the home team a one-run lead once again. Schindler settled down and retired the next three he faced in order to squash any brewing momentum from Thomasson's long ball.
Senior Jack Quigley relieved Schindler in the bottom of the sixth inning for the Wildcats. The big right-hander sent down the Golden Eagles in order in the frame, capping it with a big strikeout of Jake Rowland. The Wildcats threatened with a pair of runners in scoring position and just one out in the top of the seventh, but they could not tie the game or take back the lead against reliever Jeb Scoggins.
The home team produced another pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh with the help of Northwestern's third error of the game. The Golden Eagles tallied two unearned runs to push their lead to 9-6.
NU trailed by five runs as the ninth inning opened. Livingston opened the frame with a double and the senior came around to score with the help of a pair of wild pitches. Unfortunately Livington's run was the only tally that the d'Cats could get and they fell by a final score of 11-7.
Jones paced the Wildcats with a season-high three hits Friday. Stevens had two hits to go along with a pair of runs.
The two teams will reconvene on Saturday for the middle game of the three-game set. Sophomore southpaw Matt Portland is slated to toe the rubber for the Wildcats, opposed by TTU's David Hess. The first pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT.
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