Feb. 12, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill.-- It's time to play ball! Northwestern will venture to the West Coast to open the 2014 season this weekend with a three-game series against the USC Trojans at Dedeaux Field in Los Angeles, Calif. The series marks the first-ever meeting on the diamond between the Wildcats and the Trojans.
Three Northwestern Wildcats were named as Big Ten Players to Watch in 2014 on Feb. 12. Senior infielder Kyle Ruchim, junior pitcher Brandon Magallones, and sophomore pitcher Matt Portland were each identified as potential impact players for the 'Cats this season. Ruchim ranked in the top five in the Big Ten in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage a year ago. Magallones made 13 starts and posted a 3.30 ERA in 84.2 IP. Portland punched out 25 hitters in 28.1 IP over seven appearances in his inaugural campaign.
Northwestern boasts seven players on its roster who call California home, making it the second-most representative state for the program. Jack Mitchell, Evan Schreiber, and Dan Tyson all hail from San Diego, while Reed Mason is from nearby Solana Beach. Antonio Freschet is from San Mateo, while Walker Moses and Ethan Bramschreiber grew up nearest to USC, coming from Studio City and Glendora, respectively.
Northwestern's bullpen exhibited a propensity for the strikeout this season. Four Wildcats relievers, all seniors this season, averaged at least nine strikeouts per 9.0 IP this season. Right-hander Jack Livingston led the group with 10.1 K/9 last season, while Ethan Bramschreiber and Kyle Ruchim each posted figures of 9.7. Lefty Dan Tyson boasted 9.6 K/9 in his third season. As a staff, the 'Cats averaged 7.2 strikeouts per game, which ranked as the best output in the conference.
OPENERS UNDER STEVENS
Northwestern head coach Paul Stevens is set to take command for his 27th Opening Day as the skipper for the Wildcats. Stevens' NU teams have posted a 10-16 record in the first game of the season since 1988. Last season, the Wildcats won their first game, 8-1, against Miami (OH) at the First Pitch Invitational in Greenville, S.C. Stevens owns 637 victories, including 302 in Big Ten play entering this season.
PITCHING PROBABLES (NU vs. USC) (2013 statistics)
RHP Brandon Magallones (5-6, 3.30 ERA) vs. RHP Wyatt Strahan (4-3, 2.45 ERA)
LHP Matt Portland (2-3, 4.76 ERA) vs. LHP Bob Wheatley (3-4, 2.78 ERA)
LHP Reed Mason (2-1, 2.92 ERA) vs. LHP Kyle Twomey (2-8, 5.55 ERA)
ON THE AIR
All three games of the series at USC will be streamed live via Pac-12.com. Links to each broadcast are available at the top of this page.
For more notes and information about Northwestern and this weekend's series, please download the PDF above. Also be sure to listen to the weekly WNUR Sports Northwestern Baseball Report with head coach Paul Stevens and Greg Mroz.
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