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    And They're Off!! Wildcats Move Up Games; Play Friday/Saturday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Dan Brauer has struck out 15 in 10 innings pitched this season.
    Dan Brauer has struck out 15 in 10 innings pitched this season.

    Feb. 23, 2006

    EVANSTON, Ill. -

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    The Game
    Northwestern's baseball team is off to the home of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville, Ky. The University of Louisville to be exact. The Wildcats and Cardinals will match up for a three-game series, starting with a doubleheader Friday, February 24. A single nine-inning contest on Saturday will conclude the series.

    The series was originally to be contested one game per day, starting on Saturday, but weather predictions for the latter part of the weekend predicted precipitation and cold.

    Louisville took on Xavier Wednesday night, losing 11-9 in 10 innings. U-of-L opened the season with a loss at No. 16 Miami (13-4) and were swept in a three-game series by Florida Atlantic.

    As a team, Louisville is hitting .256 in five games. Rightfielder Daniel Burton leads the squad with an impressive .444 average, which includes a .545 on-base percentage. Second baseman Nick Haley has hit the Cardinals' only two home runs.

    With such a tough slate to start the season, Cardinal pitching numbers are not indicative of their talent. Through five games, Louisville has an ERA of 10.07 and have used 12 different pitchers.

    Meanwhile, the Wildcat pitching staff boasts a 2.79 ERA in 48.1 innings pitched. Junior George Kontos (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) leads the squad with 12.0 innings pitched in two starts, while junior lefty Dan Schwartz (New York, N.Y./Northern Valley Regional) has pitched in four of NU's five games. Schwartz has not given up an earned run, struck out eight and walked zero. Junior Dan Brauer (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton-Warrenville South) has struck out 15 in his two starts (10 innings) this season.

    Kentucky native Andrew Smith (Fort Mitchell, Ky./Beechwood) has gone four-plus innings in each of his relief appearances this season. He has a 2.00 ERA in nine innings pitched, which includes a pair of strikeouts and no walks.

    Offensively, Antonio Mulé (Lodi, N.J./Lodi) leads the team with a .381 batting average and four RBI. He also has two home runs. Second baseman Jake Owens (Stevens Point, Wis./Pacelli) is hitting .375 and has a hit in every game. Centerfielder Aaron Newman (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) hit .400 last weekend at Virginia Commonwealth and stole two bases in NU's 6-5, 10-inning win. Newman also drove in the tying run in the ninth inning and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th. Newman and freshman Tommy Finn (Valparaiso, Ind./Andrean) are tied with Mulé with four RBI.

    Projected Starters
    C Geoff Dietz (Jr.)
    1B Stanley Finch (Sr.)
    2B Jake Owens (So.)
    3B Caleb Fields (Jr.)
    SS Tommy Finn (Fr.)
    LF Anthony Wycklendt (Sr.)
    CF Aaron Newman (So.)
    RF Antonio Mulé (So.)
    DH Pat McMahon (Sr.)

    The Series With Louisville
    Series Record: NU leads 7-4


    Big Ten Pitcher of the Week
    Dan Brauer, a junior left-hander, made his second start of 2006, pitching five complete innings in NU's 6-5, 10-inning win last Saturday afternoon. He struck out seven, giving up three hits and one run. The one run was solo home run. In 10 innings this season Brauer has recorded 15 strikeouts and boasts a 0.90 ERA.

    Hot Start
    Left-handed Antonio Mulé continues to swing a hot bat to start the 2006 season. The junior leads the team with a .381 average starting all five games, two as the right-fielder and three as the designated hitter. He is tied for the team lead with four RBI and is the only Wildcat to hit a home run. He has two.

    May the Schwartz Be With You
    Junior left-hander Dan Schwartz has been the go-to guy for Coach Stevens so far this season. Schwartz has pitched in four of NU's five games and has not given up an earned run. In his seven innings pitched, only four batters have reached base safely, and three of those were because innings were extended by errors. He has not walked anyone and has eight strikeouts.

    Welcome Back Brauer
    After missing the entire 2005 season because of shoulder surgery, junior left-hander Dan Brauer started his first collegiate game in over 21 months against South Florida (2/11). Brauer pitched five scoreless innings, struck out eight and gave up only one hit.

    Oh! What a relief!
    In 21.1 innings of relief pitching this season, five pitchers have combined for a 2.56 ERA. They have struck out 12 and allowed just 19 hits. They held opposing hitters to a .224 (19-for-85) batting average. They have given up only six earned runs.