May 11, 2012
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Rocky Miller Park)
Score: Northwestern 4, Indiana 3
Records: NU (17-31, 6-16 Big Ten), Indiana (24-26, 11-8 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Saturday, May 12 -- vs. Indiana (Rocky Miller Park), 3 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern scored in each of the first four innings and then held on for dear life late as it opened its three-game series with Indiana with a 4-3 victory Friday afternoon at Rocky Miller Park.
The starting pitching matchup featured a pair of hurlers with sub-3.00 ERAs as NU righty Francis Brooke locked horns with Hoosier southpaw Joey DeNato. DeNato came into the contest with a 2.37 ERA on the season and a 7-2 record, but the 'Cats jumped on him right out of the gates.
With one on and two outs in the first, Kyle Ruchim moved Paul Snieder to third with a single before Colby Everett followed with a hit to center to put Northwestern in front.
Indiana got the run right back in the top of the second as Micah Johnson doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Dillon Dooney's first of three hits on the day.
However, the Wildcats kept getting hits against the Hoosiers' ace. Walker Moses started the bottom of the second with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Patrick Miller. He would score on a double to left by Hamilton Wise to make it 2-1.
The offense continued in each of the next two frames as Geoff Rowan had an RBI double in the third and Snieder plated another run in the fourth with a run-scoring groundout and NU found itself in front 4-1.
Indiana got one back in the top of fifth as the Hoosiers had back-to-back singles to start the frame, but Brooke limited the damage to a solo tally on groundout by Kyle Schwarber despite having to face the top of the order.
Ruchim's leadoff double in the bottom half of the frame made DeNato's day a short one, chasing him from the game. Matt Dearden came on in relief and kept the Wildcats off the board, though.
Brooke got stronger as the game went along, retiring the potent Hoosiers' lineup in order in both the sixth and seventh innings. Northwestern had a chance to tack on insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with one out, but a double play ended the threat.
A leadoff error with the 2-3-4 hitters coming up in the eighth looked as though it might spell trouble for NU, but Brooke fanned Schwarber, Sam Travis and Johnson in order to maintain the two-run advantage.
Ruchim came on to try to earn the save in the ninth, but IU mounted one final threat. Dooney started the inning with a double and moved to third on a groundout. A walk put the tying runs on base before a grounder that resulted in a forceout at second made it a one-run contest.
Ruchim was then lifted from the mound in favor of Luke Farrell with two outs and the tying run on first and the junior right-hander fanned Justin Cureton on three pitches to preserve his second save of the season.
Northwestern finished with a 10-8 advantage in the hit column led by Ruchim who had three hits, including a pair of doubles. Everett added two hits and an RBI, while Miller had two walks and scored a run.
In a season of tough luck, Brooke (2-6) earned the victory while lowering his season ERA to 2.66. He allowed six hits and two runs over eight innings while striking out seven and not issuing a walk.
The teams continue their weekend series with a contest at 1 p.m. Saturday.
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