April 22, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern used a steady offensive attack and a trio of terrific pitching performances to topple the Wheaton College Thunder at Rocky Miller Park on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, 7-5.
Cody Stevens pounded out a career-high four hits for the Wildcats, while Nick Linne also added a pair to turn in his fifth multi-hit game of the season. On the mound, senior Nick Friar got the start, and eventually his second win, with a career-high eight strikeouts over a career-high 6.0 innings pitched. Joe Hoscheit threw two innings in his collegiate debut on the bump, recording a pair of strikeouts. Jack Quigley, the reigning Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week, nailed down his fourth save for Northwestern.
After Wheaton struck for a first-inning unearned run, the 'Cats answered right back in the bottom half. Stevens doubled down the line in left field with one away and he later scored on a RBI single off the red-hot bat of Zach Jones. NU gained its first lead an inning later when the bottom part of the Wildcats lineup got things rolling.
Jack Mitchell walked to start the bottom of the second before Jake Straub poked a single through the left side of the infield. Both runners moved up 90 feet on a well-executed sacrifice bunt by Mike Trucco and Linne drove home Mitchell with a base hit to left field. After another base on balls was issued, Stevens delivered the first of two RBI he would have on the day when he reached on a fielder's choice and Straub scored.
Meanwhile, Friar was in command on the mound for the 'Cats. The Westport, Mass., native sent down seven in a row between the first and third innings, accumulating three punch-outs in that span.
Mitchell singled and stole second base in the bottom of the third, but Northwestern could not add on to its 3-1 lead. The Thunder was able to plate two runs to tie the game in the top of the fourth inning. Justin Swider started off the frame with a double and he eventually scored on a base hit by John Jensen-Johnson. Trey Martin later scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch from Friar.
Northwestern snatched the lead back with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Walker Moses reached safely on a throwing error by Wheaton's shortstop and he advanced to second with Stevens at the plate when its starting pitcher balked. NU's shortstop the drove in his second run in as many at-bats with a base hit to center field, giving the home team a 4-3 lead.
Although Friar struck out the side, Wheaton would tally another unearned run in the top of the sixth against the right-hander before the Wildcats could take the lead for good. Trucco opened the home-half by lacing a two-bagger, the first of his career, before Linne connected on a bunt single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Moses brought Trucco home on a sacrifice fly to right-center field, and two batters later, Linne scored on Scott Heelan's RBI double to give the 'Cats a 6-4 advantage.
Hoscheit, who has started 34 of NU's 35 games at a variety of positions, was summoned to the mound to begin the seventh inning. The freshman got two quick outs on just two pitches before fooling Martin with a nasty breaking pitch for his first career strikeout.
Wheaton scored its fourth unearned run in the top of the eighth to pull within one, but the Wildcats were able to generate an insurance score in their half. Moses walked, Stevens reached on a bunt single, his fourth hit of the day, and Heelan walked to load the bases ahead of Jones. The first baseman worked the count and drew a free pass of his own to bring Moses home and extend NU's lead back to two runs, 7-5.
Quigley came on a pitched a scoreless inning to earn his fourth save of the season and his second in the team's last three games.
As a team, Northwestern recorded 12 hits Tuesday, marking the 18th time this season that head coach Paul Stevens' club has reached double digits. It is also the sixth time in the last 10 games that NU hit that mark.
The Wildcats will be right back on their home turf on Wednesday, April 23 when they host the Chicago State Cougars at 3 p.m. The two teams met on CSU's campus on April 16, when Northwestern swept both games of a doubleheader, 6-1 and 4-2. Southpaw Dan Tyson is slated to start the game for the 'Cats.
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