April 30, 2006
IOWA CITY, Iowa -
Call it luck, call it destiny, call it whatever you want. The Northwestern baseball team used both luck and the long ball to pull off the improbable 9-8 win over the University of Iowa Saturday night in Iowa City. Anthony Wycklendt and Max Mann hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the seventh inning and Julio Siberio worked the final inning to pick up his second save of the series and move the Wildcats back into first place of the Big Ten standings.
With Iowa's Tim Gudex--one of the Big Ten's best closer's--on the mound, the Wildcats took advantage of a two-out error, hitting a pair of home runs to take a 9-8 lead. With one run in and an Iowa error extending the inning, senior left fielder Anthony Wycklendt (Glendale, Wis./Nicolet) hit a game-tying three-run home run to left centerfield. Sophomore right fielder Max Mann (Los Angeles, Calif./Brentwood) followed with the go-ahead solo shot to right centerfield. It was Wycklendt's fifth round-tripper and Mann's second of the season.
After pitching two and two-third innings Friday night and recording the save in NU's 9-5 series opening win, senior Julio Siberio (Davie, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) pitched a flawless seventh inning for his third save of the season. He struck out the first two batters he faced and induced a ground ball back to the mound to secure the win.
A pitch hit center fielder Aaron Newman (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) to lead off the top of the seventh and after a strikeout first baseman Pat McMahon (Mundelein, Ill./Carmel) was walked. Newman and McMahon advanced 90-feet on a groundout for the second out of the inning. A wild throw to first base on a Caleb Fields (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick) groundball allowed Newman to score, setting up Wycklendt's and Mann's heroics.
The win gives NU a 13-5 conference record, a half-game ahead of second place Michigan (13-6) in the conference standings.
NU got on the board first, plating a single run in the top of the first inning. Newman led off with a single to center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Owens (Stevens Points, Wis./Pacelli). After a groundout back to the pitcher moved Newman to third, designated hitter Antonio Mule (Lodi, N.J./Lodi) singled to left field scoring Newman.
Iowa came right back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first on two hits and the aide of Wildcat error. Neither of the two hits left the infield.
The Hawkeyes came right back with another run in the second inning to take a 4-1 lead after two complete innings. The run was unearned as another Wildcat error allowed the run to cross the plate.
Iowa scored its fourth run of the game in the third inning after a one-out double went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fielder's choice.
NU answered with two runs in the top of the fourth inning, tying the game at 3-3. Fields led off the inning with a solo home run to left field, his third of the season. Wycklendt then doubled to left and advanced to third on a wild pitch after a strikeout. Catcher Geoff Dietz's (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich) groundout scored Wycklendt, which tied the game.
The Hawkeyes exploded for four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, chasing Wildcat starter Dan Brauer (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton-Warrenville South) from the game. Brauer had thrown four consecutive complete games heading into the contest. He pitched just three and two-third innings and threw 95 pitches. Iowa took advantage of two NU miscues in the inning.
McMahon drove in a run in the top of the fifth inning with a single up the middle, making the score 8-4 in favor of Iowa.
Four different Wildcat hurlers would hold Iowa at bat, setting up the seventh for Siberio. Freshman Eric Binder (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale Central) pitched a flawless sixth inning, which included a strikeout to earn his first collegiate win.
Saturday's contest was originally scheduled as a doubleheader, but because of inclement weather in Iowa City, the two teams were reduced to a single seven-inning contest. They will make up the game Sunday, with a doubleheader beginning at noon (CT). The first game will be a seven-inning contest, followed by a nine-inning affair