April 6, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern received a second straight strong showing from its starting pitcher Sunday, but the offense was shut out and the Wildcats dropped the finale of a three-game set against Illinois, 1-0.
Brandon Magallones got the call on the hill and the junior was sharp early on. The Manhattan, Ill. native walked the second batter of the game, but after he struck out the third, Michael Hurwitz was caught stealing to end the frame.
Northwestern's offense seemed to be clicking in the bottom of the first when Zach Jones and Scott Heelan notched back-to-back singles with one out. A ground out to second base helped both runners advance 90 feet, but a sharp grounder to shortstop squashed the brief threat.
Magallones got through an easy second inning that required only five pitches to record all three outs. He surrendered a pair of base hits in the top of the third, but the Illini were unable to plate a run.
Jones looked to lift the offense once again in the bottom of the third when he muscled a double to the opposite field in left with two outs. Heelan grounded out to his counterpart at second base, however, and the Wildcats were unable to dent the scoreboard.
Illinois scored first for the third time in the series Sunday. David Kerian hit a smash past the outstretched glove of NU third baseman Nick Linne with one out in the top of the fourth. Kerian moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by Jason Goldstein. Later in the inning, the Illini had two runners aboard, but Magallones struck out Casey Fletcher with his bat on his shoulder to escape without any further damage.
Following Jones' third-inning two-bagger, the Wildcats couldn't get anything else going offensively versus Illinois' John Kravetz. The right-handed starter sent the 'Cats down in order in both the fourth and fifth innings before Jones reached on an error with one out in the sixth. Northwestern tried to execute a hit-and-run with Jones and Heelan, but the latter's hard-hit ground ball was sent right toward Illinois' second baseman who was able to start a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
The visitors attempted to build the lead in the top of the eighth inning, but Magallones and reliever Jack Livingston had other ideas. Magallones got two quick outs on fly balls to his corner outfielders, Joe Hoscheit and Matt Hopfner, before giving up a single to Goldstein. The junior then issued a base on balls to Reid Roper and Livingston was summoned from the bullpen. The veteran right-hander struck out Ryan Nagle to get out of the jam, however.
After being held hitless since the bottom of the third inning, NU finally ended the drought when Cody Stevens singled through left side of the infield. Walker Moses put down a textbook sacrifice bunt to move Stevens into scoring position and set the stage for pinch hitter Antonio Freschet. Unfortunately, Stevens was caught too far off the base when Goldstein fired a throw down to eliminate the speedy shortstop. Freschet grounded out and the inning was over.
Livingston held the Illini off the scoreboard once more in the top of the ninth to turn it back over to the offense. Illinois' Ronnie Muck got two quick outs, but Heelan kept the threat alive with a single, his second of the afternoon, into center field. Livingston, who began the day as Northwestern's designated hitter, grounded out to third base, however and the ballgame ended.
Magallones took the tough-luck loss Sunday. He threw 7.1 innings and scattered seven hits while allowing just one run. Magallones also struck out three. Kravetz picked up his third win of the season and Muck earned his first save.
Northwestern will host Valparaiso University in a nonconference game at Rocky Miller Park on Tuesday, April 8 at 3 p.m. The Wildcats lead the all-time series against the Crusaders, 22-9.
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