May 7, 2014
CHICAGO-- Northwestern slowed one of the nation's leading offenses and put up some prodigious power of its own to topple the UIC Flames at Curtis Granderson Stadium Wednesday night, 8-4.
With the win, Northwestern snapped UIC's eight-game winning streak which had been tied for the fifth longest in the nation entering the week. It was NU's fourth consecutive win over its crosstown rivals. The Wildcats scored eight runs in the triumph, marking the seventh time this season they have plated that many runs or more.
UIC struck first with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning, but the Wildcats matched the two runs and put up two more against UIC's Joe Perricone in the top of the third. Walker Moses walked to start the inning and stole second base. The right fielder advanced to third on a throwing error and eventually scored NU's first tally when Jake Straub laced a single through the left side of the Flames infield.
Nick Linne sacrificed Straub to second and after Luke Dauch walked, Cody Stevens reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Matt Hopfner walked with the bases loaded to tie the game before Scott Heelan drew a free pass to plate Dauch and give Northwestern its first lead of the evening. The Flames went to the bullpen with one out, tapping Brian Evak to relieve Perricone. Jack Mitchell hit a sacrifice fly to left field that brought Stevens home and gave the 'Cats a 4-2 lead.
The Wildcats stranded a runner on third base in the top of the fourth, but they went to work against Evak again in the top half of the fifth. Hopfner singled up the middle and stole second base, setting the stage for Heelan. Northwestern's second baseman hit a base hit up the middle that allowed Hopfner to score and increase NU's lead to three runs. Two batters later, freshman Joe Hoscheit flexed his muscle with his team-high fourth home run of the season, this one to the opposite field in right. Hoscheit's blast put the Wildcats up by five runs after four and a half frames.
The offense ignited against the Flames once again in the top of the seventh. Mitchell, NU's center fielder, crushed a ball off Mike Schoolcraft that cleared the fence and nearly left Curtis Granderson Stadium. Mitchell's first home run of the season put the Wildcats up 8-2 and they never looked back.
Northwestern used five different pitchers that combined to slow one of the NCAA's most potent offenses. Entering the week, the Flames ranked seventh in the country in both batting average (.316) and runs per game (7.4). NU's staff surrendered nine hits, but allowed only four runs en route to snapping UIC's eight-game winning streak, which had been tied for the fifth longest in the nation.
Nick Friar started on the hill and threw the first two innings. Because it was designated as a staff pitching day, the senior was credited with the win as he was the pitcher of record when the 'Cats took the lead with four runs in the top of the third. Friar was backed up by Ethan Bramschreiber and Hopfner, each of whom turned in two scoreless frames. Hoscheit worked the seventh and eighth innings on the bump, allowing just one unearned run while striking out one. Finally, Jack Quigley recorded a pair of strikeouts to nail down the nonconference win for Northwestern.
Hoscheit and Straub led Chicago's Big Ten Team with two hits apiece, while the former, Heelan and Mitchell each drove in a pair of runs. Every member of the starting lineup but one scored a run on the win.
Northwestern will wrap up the nonconference portion of its regular season schedule this weekend when SIU Edwardsville travels to Rocky Miller Park for a three-game series. The set opens on Friday, May 9 at 3 p.m. and continues with matinees on both Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. NU's seven-member senior class will be recognized in a postgame ceremony following the series finale and a complete trading card set of the group will be handed out to the first 150 fans in attendance that afternoon.
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