March 20, 2005
BRADENTON, Fla. -
Baseball is a funny game. One inning a team can't catch a break, three outs later; a team can do no wrong. Well, in Northwestern's 8-7 win over Cornell in Bradenton, Fla., it was certainly a tale of two games.
On a picture perfect day to play baseball, NU stumbled out of the gate, falling behind 7-0 after the first two innings.
Cornell scored five runs in the top of the first inning, and added two more in the second.
Sophomore George Kontos (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) started on the mound for NU and struggled. The right-hander lasted just one and one-third innings, giving up all seven runs, only four of which were earned. It was Kontos' shortest outing of his career as a starter.
But, like teammates are supposed to do, classmate Ryan Myers (Lake Villa, Ill./Carmel) picked up the slack. To say Myers was incredible would be an understatement. All the right-hander did was strike out a career-high 15 batters, compared to one walk, giving up no runs in seven and two-third innings. When Myers entered the game in the top of the second inning, he inherited runners on second and third and only one out. Myers struck out the next two Cornell hitters to end the threat.
As a matter of fact, Myers struck out the first six Cornell hitters he faced and eight of the first 10. Of the 23 outs Myers was assigned in his seven and two-third innings of relief, he struck out 15, also inducing four fly balls and three ground balls. The 23rd and final out was thrown out at second to end the game.
The closest Cornell came to scoring was in the seventh inning when the first two Big Red hitters singled. Myers calmly struck out the next three hitters, the final punch-out looking.
With Myers cruising on the mound, the Wildcats' bats finally awoke in the sixth.
In that inning, NU plated five runs on six hits, tripling its hit total from the first five innings. All five runs came with two outs, as catcher Pat McMahon's (Mundelein, Ill./Carmel) RBI single got things going. First baseman Mark Ori (Niles, Ill./Maine South) scored on McMahon's hit, who promptly rounded the bases when left fielder Anthony Wycklendt (Glendale, Wis./Nicolet) hit a two-run tape-measure home run to dead centerfield. It was Wycklendt's second home run of the season.
Freshman Max Mann
(Los Angeles, Calif./Brentwood) decided the Wildcats weren't done. Still with two outs, Mann doubled down the left field line and scored on shortstop Caleb Fields' (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick) single to centerfield. Four pitches later, Fields ran the final 270 feet when designated hitter Aaron Newman
(Palatine, Ill./Palatine) hit his second double of the season over the Cornell centerfielder's head. Newman's RBI double made the score 7-5 Cornell after six complete innings.
After Myers thwarted the Cornell rally in the top of the seventh, McMahon hit his second RBI single in as many innings, scoring Ori from third. Ori was walked for the third time in the game and went to second on a wild pitch and third on a passed ball.
Down 7-6 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Mann laced a leadoff double to right centerfield. Following a Big Red pitching change, a failed sacrifice bunt and a Newman one-out walk, put runners on first and second with one out. Freshman Jake Owens' (Stevens Point, Wis./Pacelli) followed with a single to center, loading the bases and setting up center fielder Stanley Finch's (Lubbock, Texas/Cooper) game-winning hit. The junior stepped to the plate and delivered a one-out two-RBI single to center field. The two runs put NU ahead 8-7. A strikeout and fly out ended the inning.
In the top of the ninth and having already thrown over a hundred pitches, Myers finished the Wildcat comeback as McMahon ended the game throwing out a would-be base stealer.
NU blistered Cornell pitching for 14 hits, 11 of them in the final four innings. McMahon had three hits and drove in two while Mann hit his fifth and sixth doubles of the season. Mann and Wycklendt lead the team with six doubles each. Newman reached base all four times he stepped to plate, being walked twice to go along with his two hits.
With the come-from-behind win, the Wildcats improved to 2-0 in Florida and evened their overall record at 6-6. They will take on Kent State at 3 p.m. (EST) at IMG Academy Park Monday afternoon.