April 29, 2011
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Rocky Miller Park)
Score: Northwestern 9, Illinois 2
Records: NU (14-23, 6-7 Big Ten), Illinois (15-22, 6-7 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Saturday, April 30 -- vs. Illinois (Rocky Miller Park), 1 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern scored eight times in its final three at-bats to rally from an early two-run deficit and defeat Illinois 9-2 in the series opener between the teams Friday afternoon at Rocky Miller Park.
The Wildcats dug themselves an early hole as the first four Illini batters in the game reached base against NU right-handed starter Michael Jahns. With the bases loaded and no one out, an error allowed the first run of the game to come across. Jahns did a good job to prevent further damage as only one other run was plated on a double-play grounder.
Northwestern drew a pair of walks to lead off the bottom of the third against Kevin Johnson, but wasn't able to cut into the two-run deficit. However, the Wildcats were able to get on the board in the fourth. Kyle Ruchim started the frame with a single, stole second and scored on a single to right by Jack Livingston, barely beating the throw to the plate.
Jahns was able to settle down after the first inning, allowing a total of just four baserunners over the next five frames to keep the Wildcats within striking distance.
NU took advantage of an Illinois error to even the score in the bottom of the sixth. With one away, Ruchim reached second on a throwing error by third baseman Brandon Hohl. Ruchim would move to third on a groundout by Livingston before Nick Linne came through, slicing a clutch two-out double down the right-field line to make it 2-2.
Paul Snieder entered the game in relief of Jahns following a leadoff walk in the seventh. A bunt that was popped up was followed by a lineout to third that resulted in a double play to end the frame and keep the game tied.
The Wildcats then put together their winning rally in the home half of the inning. Trevor Stevens
started the rally with a one-out walk and then advanced to third on a single by Snieder that extended his hitting streak to 15 straight games. That marked the end of Johnson's day, as left-hander Luke Joyce came on in relief. Chris Lashmet
greeted him with a run-scoring single to left before Jack Havey
followed with an RBI single of his own off his former high school teammate to put the 'Cats in front 4-2.
Snieder worked around a leadoff single in the top of the eighth before Northwestern broke the game wide open against three Illini pitchers in its half of the inning. Linne began the surge with an infield single before an error on a bunt by Geoff Rowan gave the Wildcats two aboard with no one out. A two-strike sacrifice bunt by Hamilton Wise moved both men into scoring position before Stevens plated them both with a single to center to make it 6-2. Lashmet would add his second RBI hit in as many innings before Ruchim capped the scoring with a two-run single to left.
Snieder (2-2) picked up the win by hurling three innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit. Jahns surrendered just three hits and two runs (one earned) while walking three and striking out five over his six innings of work.
NU held a 12-4 advantage in the hit column, behind three hits by Lashmet. Linne, Livingston and Ruchim contributed two hits apiece.
The teams continue their series at 1 p.m. Saturday at Rocky Miller Park.
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