Feb. 21, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill.-- After winter storm Q forced the cancellation of Northwestern's series at Kansas, the Wildcats have picked up four games in Nashville, Tenn. this weekend.
The Wildcats (1-1) will play four games between Friday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 23. On Friday night at 6 p.m., the 'Cats will take on the Ball State Cardinals at Belmont University in the Music City. Fifth-year senior Zach Morton (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will take the ball in the opener for NU. He's slated to be opposed by Ball State's Nestor Bautista (0-0, 9.00 ERA).
Northwestern will play a split doubleheader Saturday at Shelby Park, a facility that will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2014. The first game pits NU against Northern Kentucky at 1 p.m. with a tilt against the Saint Louis Billikens to follow immediately. Sophomore Brandon Magallones (0-1, 5.79 ERA) will face the Norse in the opener and freshman southpaw Matt Portland is scheduled to make his collegiate debut on the mound versus the Billikens. Northern Kentucky's starting pitcher is unknown at this time; Saint Louis will send right-hander Clay Smith to open the game.
The weekend will conclude with a contest at Lipscomb on Sunday at 3 p.m. Northwestern right-hander Luke Farrell will start the game against Lipscomb's Will Blalock (0-0, 3.60 ERA). Farrell took the hill against Furman on Feb. 16, but the game was cancelled because of snow before becoming official. The senior had recorded five strikeouts in four innings prior to the suspension of play.
Head coach Paul Stevens' squad opened the 2013 campaign last weekend at the First Pitch Invitational in Greenville, S.C. The Wildcats knocked off the Miami RedHawks, 8-1, on opening day behind stellar outings on the mound from Morton and Kyle Ruchim.
Game two of the round-robin tournament against Furman was cancelled because of snow before being declared official. Northwestern dropped its finale in the Palmetto State to Big Ten rival Michigan State, 7-4.
BIG TEN'S BEST: After one weekend of play the Wildcats are at or near the top of several key statistical categories on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Northwestern leads the Big Ten in batting average (.353), slugging percentage (.426), on-base percentage (.416) and sacrifice bunts (5). On the mound, the 'Cats lead the league in opposing batting average (.185), rank second in walks allowed (7) and third in ERA (3.00).
MIGHTY MORTON: Fifth-year senior Zach Morton survived a tumultuous first frame on the mound against Miami on Feb. 15 and responded by shutting down the RedHawks over the next six innings. Miami scored on a run on two hits in the first inning, but was held to just one hit over the final six stanzas of Morton's outing. The Evanston, Ill., native struck out four batters on the afternoon, including two in his final inning of work.
YOUTH SERVED IN WILDCAT OUTFIELD: While Northwestern's primary starters in the infield feature four upperclassmen, the outfield unit is decidedly younger. Sophomores Luke Dauch (CF) and Walker Moses (LF) started both games of the the First Pitch Invitational for NU and combined to bat .400 with four RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base. Dauch and Moses were flanked in right field by freshmen Jake Schieber and Josh Perlmutter vs. Miami and Michigan State, respectively.
For more notes and information on this weekend's games, please download the Nashville Notes PDF at the top of the page.
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