May 2, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern scored five times in the third inning to erase an early three-run deficit and the senior duo of Nick Friar and Jack Quigley made sure it held up as the Wildcats beat Michigan Friday in the opener of a three-game set at Rocky Miller Park, 5-3.
Chicago's Big Ten Team pushed across five runs with the help of three extra-base hits in the bottom of the third against Michigan starting pitcher Evan Hill. It marked the first time that NU scored five or more runs in an inning since the bottom of the seventh inning against Iowa on April 11. In that game, the home team erased a 10-run deficit in the seventh and eventually won on a walk-off single by Zach Jones in the bottom of the ninth, 14-13.
Dating back to the 2011 season, Northwestern has won seven of the last nine games against Michigan, including three of the last four since 2013.
The Wolverines struck for a pair of runs in the top of the first inning against Friar, who was making his third start of the season, but his first career start in a Big Ten game Friday. After the first batter of the game struck out with his bat on his shoulder, Michigan loaded the bases with a single and two walks before Carmen Benedetti plated the first run with a sacrifice fly to center field. Eric Jacobson drove in the second run for the visitors with a bunt single up the third-base line that gave his team a 2-0 lead.
Michigan added a third tally in the top of the second inning. Travis Maezes drew a one-out walk and eventually scored on a RBI groundout off the bat of Jackson Glines. Glines' ball looked to be ticketed for extra bases, but Northwestern's Matt Hopfner made a diving stab at first base to get the important second out. Friar then got a fly ball to right field to strand a runner at third base and end the inning.
After Friar picked up his third and fourth strikeouts of the game in the top of the third, Northwestern's offense finally exploded against Hill. The Wildcats pushed across five runs to take their first lead of the ballgame. Cody Stevens reached on an error to start the inning and Nick Linne sacrificed his teammate up 90 feet. Designated hitter Luke Dauch then unleashed the first of three extra-base hits in the stanza with his first triple of the season which carried to the corner in left field and allowed Stevens to score easily.
The next batter, Hopfner, struck out, but a wild pitch from Hill allowed both him to reach first safely and Dauch to score, pulling the 'Cats to within a run. The next batter, Scott Heelan evened the score at three when he roped a double to left field that brought Hopfner home. Hill got a strikeout for the second out, but NU;s next hitter, freshman Joe Hoscheit, belted a two-run home run to left field that would give his team a 5-3 lead that it would not relinquish. It was Hoscheit's team-high third home run of the season and his second at Rocky Miller Park.
It was then time to rely on the arms. Friar may have allowed three early runs, but he caught fire soon after that. The Westport, Mass., native retired 13 straight hitters between the second and sixth innings when Jacobson ended the run with a base hit to left field. Friar recovered and easily set down four of the final five hitters he would face on the afternoon.
In the top of the eighth, head coach Paul Stevens turned the ball over to his closer, senior Jack Quigley, to protect the two-run lead. The Birmingham, Mich., native threw two perfect innings for the 'Cats with one strikeout as he nailed down his fifth save of the season.
Friar picked up his career-high third win Friday. He scattered five hits, three of which came in the first and second frames. The senior finished with four strikeouts and four walks.
Northwestern and Michigan will reconvene at Rocky Miller Park on Saturday, May 3 at 1 p.m. Right-hander Brandon Magallones is slated to toe the rubber for the Wildcats, while southpaw Trent Szkutnik is the probable starting pitcher for the Wolverines. The series concludes on Sunday, May 4 at 1 p.m.
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