April 4, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern was able to play at Rocky Miller Park for the first time all season Friday afternoon, but Illinois spoiled the homecoming festivities by toppling the Wildats, 13-0.
Northwestern used five arms in the loss, including two position players who made their collegiate debuts on the mound in juniors Reid Hunter and Cody Libman. As a staff Friday, the Wildcats walked 12 opponents for the second time in the last three games. NU's defense also let it down against its instate rivals in key spots with a season-high five errors in the field.
Offensively, the 'Cats were locked onto Illinois starting pitcher Drasen Johnson early on, but they were unable to scratch out a run. NU collected a hit in each of the first four innings, but they left a combined six runners on base during that stretch. Following freshmen Matt Hopfner's infield single that led off the fourth inning, Johnson retired the next nine Wildcats in order before he unintentionally plunked Jake Straub to open the bottom of the seventh.
In all, Johnson matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts as he notched his third win of the season for Illinois. The right-hander allowed the four hits mentioned previously and walked only one Wildcat in his eighth start of the season. Charlie Naso pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four Wildcats in the process to close out the ballgame for the Illini.
Illinois struck for a run in the top of the first inning without the benefit of a base hit. Michael Hurwitz and David Kerian both reached on errors and Hurwitz later scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jason Goldstein. The unearned run gave the Illini a 1-0 lead after their first opportunity at the dish.
Northwestern starting pitcher Dan Tyson worked well through the first three innings before Illinois began to bother the lefty in the top of the fourth. Kerian led of the inning with a base hit to left field before a walk and a hit batsmen loaded the bases with nobody out. Pat McInerney then walked to bring home a second run for the visitors, which ended Tyson's afternoon. Senior Nick Friar relieved his classmate and limited the damage to just one more tally before punching out Adam Walton to end the top of the fourth.
The Wildcats surrendered three runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth. Both runs in the sixth inning were unearned as two more errors on the home nine severely plagued its chances at any comeback.
The series continues at Rocky Miller Park on Saturday, April 5 at 1 p.m. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Reed Mason is slated to start on the mound for the Wildcats, while Illinois will send right-hander Ryan Castellanos to the bump. The first 500 fans in attendance Saturday will receive a great Northwestern Baseball tumbler.
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