April 23, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern pinch hitter Jack Mitchell delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to aid the Wildcats in walking off against the Chicago State Cougars at Rocky Miller Park Wednesday, 7-6.
Northwestern trailed by one run heading into its final at-bats. Luke Dauch walked to lead off the inning against CSU's closer, Jared Patterson. Second baseman Antonio Freschet laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Dauch up to second base ahead of Nick Linne. The Wildcats third baseman muscled a base hit into left field and the speedy Dauch was able to hustle all the way around, beating the throw, to tie the game at 6-6. Linne advanced to second on the throw to the dish.
Head coach Paul Stevens summoned a hitter off the bench, sophomore Jack Mitchell, to get the job done and the San Diego, Calif., native did just that. Mitchell hit a line drive into left field, past the outstretched glove of Chicago State's Joelh Calixto and Linne scored the game-winning run, sending the Evanston faithful home happy.
Since beating Chicago State twice on April 16, Chicago's Big Ten Team has won six of its last seven games. Dating back to a seven-run victory over Valparasio on April 8, the Wildcats have been winners in eight of their last 11 games. Wednesday marked NU's 32nd win all-time against Chicago State.
Chicago State had taken a one-run lead on the strength of a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning. Reid Hunter, who was making only his second career appearance on the mound, had held the Cougars with a run over 2.1 innings before running into a tough spot in the ninth. A single, error and intentional walk loaded the bases with one out for Mattingly Romanin. Stevens called up Brandon Magallones and the junior got the out with a fly ball to center field, but it was deep enough to allow a run to score, giving CSU a 6-5 lead, and setting the stage for the 'Cats' final-inning heroics.
Earlier, the Cougars struck first with a run in the top of the first inning. Romanin drew a one-out walk and eventually scored from second base on a RBI single to right field by Jordan Stroschein. Another single and a walk loaded the bases, but NU's Dan Tyson induced a fly ball to left field that ended the frame and limited the damage to a single run.
Chicago State doubled its lead in the top of the third. Stroschein walked to open the inning and he scored on a well-executed safety squeeze put down by Julian Russell. After the bunt, Tyson retied the next two Cougars in order to keep the deficit at two runs for the home team.
Northwestern got new life in the bottom of the fourth with two runs against Chicago State starting pitcher Dane Mehring. Scott Heelan and Matt Hopfner both singled through the right side, setting the stage for center fielder Jake Schieber. The sophomore clobbered the first pitch he saw to the gap in right-center field for a triple, which allowed Heelan to score from second base and Hopfner to come home from first to knot the game at two runs apiece. That was the first career three-bagger for the sophomore from Wheaton, Ill.
Chicago State was able to surge ahead against NU's bullpen in the top of the sixth inning. The Cougars plated three unearned runs as they took advantage of a catcher's interference call with the bases loaded that allowed the go-ahead run to score in the form of Stroschein. Matt Schmidt followed with a two-run single to left field that put the visitors ahead, 5-2.
The Purple and White cut into the deficit with a pair of runs in the home-half of the sixth. Cody Stevens led off the inning with a double, his second in as many days, before Heelan singled sharply up the middle to get the Wildcats within two. Later in the inning Heelan scored on a wild pitch from reliever Nick Kostalek to shrink the hole to a single run.
With Hunter getting the job done on the hill, the offense went back to work in the bottom of the eighth to plate the game-tying run. Heelan walked with out in the inning before Zach Jones belted a double to right-center field to collect is third hit of the afternoon. With two men in scoring position, Hopfner accomplished his mission by scalding a line drive into center field that allowed Heelan to tag up at third and score.
Jones, Heelan and Linne all had multi-hit games for Northwestern, while Heelan scored a career-high three times. Magallones picked up his second win of the season, as he needed only five pitches to turn it back over to his offense in the ninth. Patterson, who started in center field and went 1-for-3 with three walks, blew the save and took his second loss.
Josh Perlmutter and Cody Libman both made their first starts of the season Wednesday for NU. For Libman, it was the junior's first career starting nod.
Northwestern will head out of town for its next four games, beginning with a road trip to East Lansing, Mich., where it will take on the Michigan State Spartans in a three-game series. The first game of the set is slated for Friday, April 25 with the first pitched scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CT.
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