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    Northwestern Drops Nonconference Affair to Northern Illinois

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Matt Hopfner
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Matt Hopfner
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    April 30, 2014

    Game Photo
    Northern Illinois Northern Illinois 4, Northwestern 0
    Standard Bank Stadium • Crestwood, Ill.

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    CRESTWOOD, Ill. -- Northwestern's offense sputtered Wednesday night as the Wildcats fell in a nonconference game to the Northern Illinois Huskies, 4-0, at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood, Ill.

    The Wildcats kept the Huskies off the scoreboard in the first two innings thanks in large part to a pair of slick defensive plays. NIU picked up a one-out single in each of the first two frames, but Northwestern's starting pitcher, Dan Tyson, induced ground balls both times that started inning-ending double plays. Third baseman Nick Linne started the around-the-horn double play to end the first inning, while Cody Stevens and Scott Heelan got the second one started.

    After the Huskies stranded two runners in scoring position to end the third inning, they broke through in the fourth for the game's first run. Justin Fletcher doubled to lead off the frame and after stealing third base, the second baseman scored when Micah McCulloch reached base safely on NU's second error of the night. Tyson did strand a pair of NIU base runners for the second straight inning to limit the damage to a single tally.

    Northwestern got its first runner to third base in the top of the sixth inning. Jake Straub drew a walk to lead off the inning and the backstop advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Linne. Luke Dauch grounded out to the right side, allowing Straub to take third, but a groundout to shortstop ended the Wildcats' first significant threat without a run.

    Matt Hopfner moved from first base to the pitcher's mound to open the bottom of the seventh in relief of Tyson. Northern Illinois quickly loaded the bases with two walks sandwiched around a well-placed bunt single before Tommy Hook hit a two-run single to right field that gave his team a 3-0 lead. Following Hook's single, Hopfner got a foul out to Straub behind the dish and two big strikeouts to end the seventh.

    The Wildcats tried to cut into the deficit in the top of the eighth inning. Walker Moses and Linne both drew bases on balls from NIU's Jordan Ruckman, but the southpaw notched his eighth strikeout to squash the threat and preserve the three-run lead.

    NIU, the home team in this neutral-site affair picked up another insurance run in the bottom of the eighth against NU's second reliever of the night, Joe Hoscheit.

    Tyson took the loss, his fourth. Ruckman notched his first win of the season in the complete-game shutout.

    Northwestern returns home this weekend to host the Michigan Wolverines in a three-game series at Rocky Miller Park. The Big Ten set begins Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.

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