March 15, 2013
| vs. North Dakota State
| Final Score
|| NU 3, NDSU 2 (11)
| Winning Pitcher
|| Kyle Ruchim
|| NU 6-5, NDSU 7-8
| Next NU Event
|| vs. Bucknell (Winter Haven, Fla.), March 16, 9:00 a.m. CT
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- One day after pounding out a season-high 12 runs, the Northwestern Wildcats used excellent pitching, stellar defense and timely hitting to scoot past the North Dakota State Bison at Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Fla., 3-2.
Both teams scored a run in the fourth inning and added another in the ninth before Trevor Stevens hit a two-out single to left field to score catcher Scott Heelan from second base in the bottom of the 11th to send the Wildcats (6-5) home victoriously.
Stevens added a season-high three hits in the ball game; he also stole a base and scored the first run of the game for Northwestern. Heelan and center fielder Jack Quigley also added two hits in the win.
Luke Farrell made the start on the mound and, though he did not factor in the decision, kept the Wildcats in the ballgame all afternoon. The right-hander scattered six hits and struck out nine batters in a career-high nine innings of work. He allowed two runs (one earned) and only walked one batter during the game.
After the Bison scored an unearned run in the top of the fourth inning, the Wildcats began to attack NDSU starting pitcher John Straka. The right-hander set the 'Cats down in order the first time through the lineup, but then Stevens opened the second time around for Straka with a base hit up the middle. After swiping second and scampering to third on a ground out, the shortstop raced home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jack Havey. Stevens safely beat a fantastic throw by Bison center fielder Tim Colwell to score the run and even the game at a run apiece.
Meanwhile, Northwestern's starting pitcher began to settle into a groove on the mound. After allowing the initial run, Farrell retired the next 10 Bison he faced before Kyle Kleinendorst was hit by a pitch with one out in the seventh inning. The right-hander avoided any further damage, however, and NDSU was held in check once again.
While Farrell was in control on the mound, he was receiving plenty of help behind him. A hard-charging Colby Everett made a great play to field a bunt and throw out a runner to open the sixth inning. Stevens made a diving stop and a strong toss to Havey to make a big second out in the top of the eighth as well.
North Dakota State broke through again in the top of the ninth inning. Farrell struck out the first man he faced before a pair of Bison collected back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners. Kleinendorst then dropped a bunt up the first-base line that allowed Jon Hechtner to score the go-ahead run. Farrell struck out the next two batters to end the inning, and his outing, without allowing any further runs to score.
Kyle Ruchim led off the bottom of the ninth with a base hit through the shadows on the right side of the diamond to chase Straka from the ballgame. After Havey moved Ruchim over with a sacrifice bunt, Kyle Kingsley came in from the bullpen and retired Jack Mitchell before pinch-hitter Zach Jones snuck a single past the second baseman to bring Ruchim home from third and tie the game at 2-2.
The Wildcats had an opportunity to score in the top of the 10th with the bases loaded and just one out. Havey tried to lay down a bunt, but it was right back to Kingsley and he got the ball home in time to force Reid Hunter, who entered as a pinch runner for Quigley. Mitchell fouled out to the right fielder, who made a nice running catch, to end the inning.
Heelan and Hunter both picked up base hits in the 11th with Hunter's coming when there were two outs in the frame. The Bison brought in left-hander Jake Heck to turn the switch-hitting Stevens around the batter's box. Stevens clearly did not mind the flip as he delivered the game-winning hit.
Ruchim pitched two scoreless innings in relief to earn his first win of the season. The junior allowed one hit and struck out two Bison with a runner in scoring position in the top of the 10th inning.
The Wildcats conclude their stay in the Sunshine State Saturday morning against Bucknell. Northwestern will take on the Bison at Chain of Lakes Park at 9 a.m. CT in its final game before beginning Big Ten play on Friday, March 22 against Iowa. Sophomore Brandon Magallones (1-1, 3.86 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season for the 'Cats Saturday.
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