May 17, 2005
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Illinois State scored four unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and held on to beat Northwestern 9-8 Tuesday afternoon at Rocky Miller Park. NU scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn't come up with big hit, and left the tying run on third base. The loss drops the Wildcats to 23-27 on the season.
Illinois State jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. A leadoff triple and two singles plated the runs. A base-on-balls was sandwiched between the two singles.
NU came right back in the bottom of the second inning. Third baseman Mike Phelps (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township) lined a one-out two-RBI single to center field with the bases loaded. Shortstop Jon Mikrut (Wauconda, Ill./Carmel) led off the inning with a single to left and went to second when right fielder Antonio Mule (Lodi, N.J./Lodi) was walked. Another free pass loaded the bases, which set up Phelps' hit.
Wildcat starter Dan Schwartz (New York, N.Y./Northern Valley Regional) gave way to senior Evan Blesoff (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park River Forest) to start the fourth inning. Schwartz pitched three innings and gave up two runs.
Blesoff pitched the third inning. He gave up three runs on five hits. Blesoff took the loss and fell to 4-7 on the season.
NU got one run back in the bottom of the fifth as back-to-back doubles made the score 5-3 in favor of ISU. Defensive replacement Stanley Finch (Lubbock, Texas/Cooper) hit a two-out double down the left field line and scored on Mark Ori's (Niles, Ill./Maine South) double to straightaway center field.
Sophomore Bobby Ferla
(Waldwick, N.J./St. Joseph Regional) relieved Blesoff to start the fifth inning. Ferla did not give up a hit until the start of the eighth inning. A leadoff double and walk prompted head coach Paul Stevens
to make a call to the bullpen. Ferla pitched three-plus inning and struck out two.
Senior Chris Hayes (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) came on to pitch with no out s in the top of the eighth inning. Illinois State took advantage of two Wildcat errors. A botched sacrifice bunt, a couple of singles and an errant throw on a double play allowed four unearned runs to cross the plate.
NU got three runs back in the bottom half of the eighth as Phelps delivered another two-RBI hit to the left centerfield gap. NU's first run crossed on Max Mann's (Los Angeles, Calif./Brentwood) bases loaded sacrifice fly to shallow left field. Designated hitter Pat McMahon (Mundelein, Ill./Carmel) scored on the play. Phelps's sixth double of the season plated Jon Mikrut (Wauconda, Ill./Carmel) and Anthony Wycklendt (Glendale, Wis./Nicolet). Mikrut who was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game and Wycklendt walked to reach base.
In the bottom of the ninth, Finch got things started with a bunt single toward third base. McMahon followed with a one-out single to right, which put runners on first and second with one out. Following a strikeout, Wycklendt knocked a single off the pitchers glove that made its way to right field, which allowed Finch to score from second. Mann recorded his second RBI of the game with a single down the right field line, which left runners on first and third with two outs. A strikeout ended the Wildcat threat and the game.
Northwestern is next in action when they host Michigan State at Rocky Miller Park this weekend in a four-game conference series. Game one is set to begin at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.
With Pat McMahon's ninth-inning single, he needs just three hits to tie the single-season hit record of 81. He has 78 hits in 190 at-bats for a .411 average. The last Wildcat to hit .400 in a season was Mark Loretta in 1993. He hit .408 and was named Big Ten Player of the Year.
Anthony Wycklendt tallied another RBI in the game, which gives him 49 for the season. The last Wildcat to record 50 RBI in a season was Joe Hietpas in 2000.
Senior third baseman Mike Phelps recorded his 11th multi-hit and fifth multi-RBI game of the season.
With his 50th start of the season today, Jon Mikrut has started 208 games in his career. He has started at least 50 per year and missed only two games in his four years at Northwestern. Both missed games were coach's decisions. He has never missed a game because of injury. His 208 games played ties him for fourth with Joe Girardi in games played in a career.
Jon Mikrut's second inning single gives him 229 for his career. That number ties him with Joe Hietpas (1998-01) for fifth on NU's career hits list.