May 4, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- It took until the final frame to decide Sunday, but a two-run single in the top of the ninth propelled Michigan to a 5-3 victory in the series finale against Northwestern at Rocky Miller Park.
Jacob Cronenworth drove in two of his three runs with a chopper into right field in the top of the ninth to help the Wolverines pull off the comeback victory Sunday. He also earned his 10th save for the visitors.
Michigan got a run in the top of the first inning to take a quick lead, but it didn't last long. The Wildcats loaded the bases against Michigan starter Logan McAnallen with one out ahead of Joe Hoscheit. NU's left fielder was hit by a McAnallen offering to force Matt Hopfner in, tying the game at 1-1. The Wolverines made an early pitching change after Hoscheit's at-bat, calling upon Keith Lehmann out of the bullpen to put out the fire.
Northwestern's Walker Moses greeted Lehmann and the junior gave his team its first lead of the afternoon, 2-1, with a base hit to right field. Jake Straub followed with a sacrifice fly that plated Jack Mitchell and gave the Wildcats a fast 3-1 lead. Nick Linne tried to help the 'Cats tack on a few more runs when he lined a ball that appeared destined for right-center field, but Michigan's Eric Jacobson made a leaping grab to snare the ball out of the air and prevent the home team from adding to its lead.
The visitors later pulled to within a run during the top of the fourth. Michigan's Cole Martin singled to center field to open the frame, and after a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch, he scored on a RBI groundout off the bat of Kendall Patrick. The Wildcats tried to extend their lead in the bottom of the inning with runners on second and third with two outs, but Hopfner's effort was snagged by the Wolverines' Travis Maezes at shortstop and the threat abruptly ended. After four innings, Northwestern still led Michigan, 3-2.
Kevin White of Michigan kicked off the top of the fifth with a triple over the head of Mitchell before NU starting pitcher Reed Mason registered his third strikeout, this time getting Maezes looking for the first out. The next batter, Cronenworth, delivered a sacrifice fly to left field that brought White home and evened the ledger at three runs apiece.
The Wildcats finally chased Lehmann from the hill in the bottom of the sixth. Moses picked up his second hit of the afternoon with a single through the left side and he made it to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Straub. Michigan then called upon Brett Adcock out of the bullpen and the southpaw kept the tie in tact as he recorded a pair of strikeouts to squash Northwestern's threat.
Michigan had a chance to take the lead back for the first time since the top of the first inning, but Northwestern's defense was not about to let that happen. Dominic Jammett reached on a bang-bang play for an infield single, but he was later retired when Mason fielded a sacrifice attempt and fired to Linne at third base for the inning's first out. Then with men on first and second, Cronenworth singled to left field and White was given the green light to try and score coming around third base; NU's Hoscheit came up throwing and fired a laser to Straub. The catcher corralled the throw and dove across the dish to tag White for the second out. Mason then got a groundball to Cody Stevens at shortstop leave the mound unscathed.
Jack Quigley came on in relief of Mason in the top of the eighth and the senior got three quick outs on ground balls to turn it back over to his offense. The bats went quietly against Michigan reliever Brett Adcock, however, hitting two fly balls to center field sandwiched around his sixth strikeout.
NU surrendered the lead for good in the top of the ninth inning. Patrick and Jammett singled to start the inning before Quigley fanned White for the first out. Maezes blistered a ball to load the bases and then Cronenworth delivered the decisive blow, a two-run single to right field that brought pinch runners Zach Zott and Alex Lakatos home to score. Quigley notched a second strikeout and a fly ball to center field to end the top of the ninth, but Michigan was staked to a 5-3 lead.
Cronenworth slid over from his spot at third base to try and close the game for the Wolverines. The sophomore was able to get the job done, needing only seven pitches to retire the 'Cats order and secure his 10th save of the season and the series victory for his team.
Mason turned in his team-high sixth quality start of the season Sunday, but the sophomore did not factor in the decision. The lefty struck out three and walked only one Wolverine over seven solid innings on the bump. Adcock picked up his team-best sixth win for Michigan, while striking out six of the nine batters he faced Sunday.
Next up, the Wildcats will take on a pair of Windy City rivals in midweek games. The 'Cats host the Chicago Maroons on Tuesday, May 6 at 3 p.m. before traveling to Curtis Granderson Stadium to take on the UIC Flames on May 7 at 6:05 p.m. Northwestern returns to Rocky Miller Park next weekend to host the SIU Edwardsville Cougars in a three-game series beginning Friday, May 9 at 3 p.m.
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