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    Wildcats Blast Past Buckeyes in Series Opener, 6-3

    May 15, 2014

    Northwestern Northwestern 6, Ohio State 3
    Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium • Columbus, Ohio

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    Columbus, Ohio -- Northwestern got a phenomenal outing the mound Thursday and coupled it with a season-high six extra bases to knock off Ohio State in the first game of a three-game series at Bill Davis Stadium, 6-3.

    Starting pitcher Brandon Magallones matched a season-high with eight innings for the Wildcats, while striking out six, a number that he had not hit since the first game of the season at USC on Feb. 14. Offensively, Northwestern recorded double-digit hits (12) for the 22nd time this season and the sixth time in Big Ten play. Nine different 'Cats had at least one hit Thursday, while Matt Hopfner, Jack Mitchell and Jake Straub produced multi-hit efforts.

    Ohio State's Tanner Tully entered the game with the lowest ERA (1.79) in the Big Ten, but the Wildcats were able to score an early run off the left-hander in the top of the first inning. Hopfner legged out a double with one out in the inning, but he was erased on a fielder's choice, hit by Scott Heelan. The next batter, left fielder Mitchell, clubbed double deep to center field that allowed Heelan to come all the way around and score the first run of the game. Mitchell made it to third base when an offering from Tully got stuck in the chest protector of catcher Aaron Gretz, but the southpaw recorded his second strikeout of the inning to limit the 'Cats to a single tally.

    The Buckeyes scratched out the equalizer in the bottom of the first inning. Ronnie Dawson notched OSU's first hit of the ballgame with one away and advanced to second base on an infield hit by Troy Kuhn. Dawson stole third when Magallones struck out Pat Porter on a full-count pitch. Jake Straub's strong throw scooted away from Joe Hoscheit at third base and Dawson scampered home to even the game at a run apiece. Magallones then notched his third strikeout of the frame, getting Josh Desze looking to end the first.

    Northwestern had an opportunity to regain the lead in the top of the second. Straub and Cody Stevens, who returned to the lineup after missing the last three games, singled and moved to third and second base, respectively, when RJ Watters flied out to deep center field. Tully was able to strand the Wildcats in scoring position when he recorded his third strikeout of the game to end the top of the second inning.

    The Buckeyes loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the second inning, but Magallones wiggled out of trouble once again. The junior got a shallow fly ball for the first out before inducing his eighth double play of the season to end the inning without allowing a run.

    Mitchell picked up his teammates and gave them the lead back with one mighty swing. The sophomore got ahold of a Tully fastball and sent it over the fence for his second home run of the season, a solo shot that traveled beyond left-field wall. It was Mitchell's fourth career home run, but his first in Big Ten play.

    Chicago's Big Ten Team played a bit of small-ball to add two more runs in the top of the fourth inning. Walker Moses singled the other way to right field before three consecutive bunts helped NU score its first run of the inning. Watters, who made his first career start Thursday, delivered a perfect safety squeeze bunt that allowed Moses to score and pushed Straub up to third base. Pinch hitter Reid Hunter then stepped to the dish and flipped the first pitch he saw from Tully into left field on a line to bring Straub home and give the Wildcats a 4-1 lead.

    Moses did his best to keep Northwestern's lead at three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Jacob Bosiokovic doubled for the second time in as many at-bats with one down in the frame. Gretz singled to right field and OSU head coach Greg Beals waved Bosiokovic around third, but Moses came up throwing and erased the designated hitter at the plate. Moses' throw took Straub slightly up the line, but the backstop was able to corral the ball and reach back to apply the tag in time for the second out. Magallones then fired off his fourth strikeout to finish off the Buckeyes in the fourth inning.

    Northwestern's offense came up empty-handed in the top of the fifth despite the fourth extra-base hit of the game, a double by Hoscheit. Moses gave a ball a ride, but it found a glove and the Wildcats did not score. The top of the sixth, however, was a different story.

    With two outs in the top of the sixth inning, Hopfner delivered his fifth double of the season, and his second of the afternoon, to center field. Stevens had reached earlier on a fielder's choice and Watters singled to left field; both runners scored with two outs to give the Wildcats a 6-1 lead after five and a half innings. That would be all the offense needed for Magallones and the Wildcats.

    The six runs allowed by Tully were the most since he surrendered seven runs at Oregon on March 9. Only one of the seven tallies was earned that day and only three of Northwestern's six runs were earned Thursday. The Wildcats' 11 hits were the second most allowed by Tully this season, but the most in a six-inning outing.

    Magallones, meanwhile, appeared to get stronger as his outing wore on. He retired the side in order in the fifth inning and once again the bottom of the seventh; the Manhattan, Ill., native needed only five pitches to mow down the Buckeyes in the seventh. The righty got a foul-out to Hopfner at first base, his sixth strikeout of the game, and a great defensive play by Hoscheit. The freshman charged from his post at third base and fielded Nick Sergakis' bunt attempt and fired on to first for the final out of the frame.

    Northwestern's starting pitcher faced the minimum once again in the bottom of the eighth, this time getting a nice sliding catch from Watters in center field to finish the inning.

    Ohio State put together a late rally in the bottom of the ninth. Magallones opened the on the mound, but the starter was lifted in favor of Jack Quigley after serving up a leadoff double to Dezse. Bosiokovic greeted Quigley with a base hit up the middle to score the first run of the ninth. Bosiokovic later scored on a sacrifice fly by Tim Wetzel. With two outs and the tying run at the plate in the form of Dawson, the Wildcats turned to Hoscheit to try to slam the door. The right-hander needed only two pitched to get Dawson to fly out to his counterpart, Watters, to end the game.

    Magallones pitched a season-high eight innings Thursday to pick up his fourth win of the season. He allowed just one earned run and matched a season high with six strikeouts. The junior scattered seven hits and walked only two Buckeyes. Hoscheit earned his first career save in only his fifth appearance on the hill.

    The Wildcats, who won for the 12th time in 20 games Thursday, and Buckeyes will continue the series on Friday, May 16 at 4:05 p.m. The contest will be televised, once again, on the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins handling the play-by-play and Danan Hughes providing analysis. Left-handed pitcher Reed Mason is slated to toe the rubber for Northwestern, while right-hander Travis Lakins will get the nod for Ohio State.

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