May 16, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -
On Senior Day at Rocky Miller Park, it was a freshman who was responsible for the heroics. Paul Snieder hit a two-run homer to tie the game in the seventh inning and then blasted a walk-off shot with one out in the ninth to give Northwestern a 6-5 win over Michigan and a doubleheader sweep of the Wolverines.
The Wildcats won the first game by a score of 10-6, eliminating Michigan from contention for a Big Ten tournament berth in the process.
Northwestern (14-35-1, 5-17 Big Ten) tallied first, getting a single run in the bottom of the second. Chad Noble started things with a one-out single before moving to second on a hit by Kenneth Avila. The Wildcat catcher would race around to score on a Hamilton Wise hit to center.
The lead grew to 2-0 in the third as NU used a two-out rally. Snieder got on base with a single and Tony Vercelli was hit by a pitch, giving the Wildcats two aboard. Noble plated Snieder from second with an RBI single to left.
Northwestern stretched its lead to 3-0 in the fourth. Singles by Avila and Wise put two on base for Tommy Finn. The senior shortstop placed a perfect bunt down the third-base line that pitcher Alan Oaks threw away, allowing Avila to score.
Meanwhile, Muraski was baffling Wolverine batters. It took the junior left-hander just four innings to match his career high with eight strikeouts, including fanning Michigan in order in the fourth.
Muraski struck out his ninth batter in the fifth, but the guests were also able to get their bats going in that frame as a pair of home runs and a run-scoring bloop single tied the game. Michigan (30-25, 9-15) climbed in front in the sixth as another bloop single that got lost in the sun allowed the lead run to score before a sacrifice fly gave the Wolverines a 5-3 advantage.
Snieder got things back to even in the Northwestern half of the seventh as he followed Chris Lashmet's leadoff single with a two-run blast to straight-away center off reliever Travis Smith to make it 5-5.
Zach Morton, who entered in relief of Muraski to start the seventh inning, worked around a single to start the ninth inning to keep the game tied heading into the bottom half. Snieder sent the Wildcat fans home happy in the season finale, ripping a one-out shot to right-center off Mike Dufek and setting off a wild celebration at home plate.
It was the sixth home run of the season for the NU frosh and second walk-off homer by a Northwestern player this season. Snieder joined Jake Goebbert who hit a two-run shot in a victory over Northern Illinois April 22.
The round-tripper made a winner of Morton who was outstanding in three innings of relief, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out one. Muraski finished with a career-high 10 strikeouts over the first six innings of play.
The contest completed the collegiate careers of seven Wildcat players: Finn, Vercelli, Mike Folan, Jim Grieco, Matt Havey, Brian Morgan and Jake Wilson.