April 1, 2010
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Northwestern opens its 2010 Big Ten season this weekend as it hosts Ohio State in a three-game series. The Wildcats finally play a game at Rocky Miller Park after playing their first 24 games of the season on the road. Friday's opening game is set for a 3 p.m. start, while first pitch Saturday and Sunday is 1 p.m.
Friday and Saturday's games can be heard online at sports.wnur.org. Friday's contest can also be heard on 89.3 FM. Gametracker will be available for all three games at NUsports.com.
NU (6-18) finally returned to the Chicagoland area Tuesday as it dropped a 6-1 decision at UIC. The Wildcats got a run in the top of the first inning, but that's all they were able to muster against seven Flames pitchers. Freshman Colby Everett and sophomore Paul Snieder collected two hits apiece for Northwestern.
The Wildcats split their Big Ten-opening series at home against Purdue last season. NU dropped the opener 4-3 before bouncing back to win the next game 13-4. The scheduled series finale was wiped out due to inclement weather.
Northwestern won one of three games in a tightly contested series at No. 23 Ohio State last season. The Buckeyes rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the opener 5-4. OSU held off a charge by the Wildcats to win the second game 11-7 before NU took the series finale 10-6.
Scouting Ohio State
Probable Pitching Matchups
The Buckeyes (14-7) scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to pick up a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Toledo in their home opener Wednesday afternoon. Ohio State has six regulars batting at least .350, paced by senior infielder Cory Kovanda who is hitting .414. Zach Hurley is batting .400 with a team-high 11 doubles. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with a .340 team batting average. Reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Alex Wimmers is 5-0 with a 2.12 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched. Bob Todd, the 2009 Big Ten Coach of the Year, is in his 23rd year as Ohio State's head coach.
RHP Francis Brooke
(3-1, 3.46 ERA) vs. RHP Alex Wimmers (5-0, 2.12 ERA)
LHP Eric Jokisch
(1-4, 7.40 ERA) vs. RHP Brett McKinney (1-3, 5.85 ERA)
RHP Zach Morton
(0-4, 8.10 ERA) vs. RHP Dean Wolosiansky (1-3, 5.62 ERA)
After enjoying a solid freshman season, right-handed pitcher Francis Brooke has gotten his sophomore campaign off on the right foot. After notching a pair of scoreless relief appearances to open the season, he allowed only one earned run over eight innings of work in a victory over Rutgers. Brooke was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week March 8 after he shut down Loyola Marymount on three hits while striking out six in another eight-inning appearance. Throw in a victory over UNLV and Brooke leads the Wildcats with three wins this season to go along with a 3.46 ERA. His command has been outstanding as he has struck out 26 batters while walking only four.
Accelerating on the Base Paths
A year ago, Northwestern accumulated just 23 stolen bases in its 50 games. The total ranked last in the Big Ten and were 29 fewer than any other conference squad. The Wildcats have already displayed a penchant to be more aggressive on the bases this season as their 26 thefts have already surpassed the 2009 total. The team's eight steals at UNLV March 12 are a high for any Big Ten team in a game this season. Sophomore Trevor Stevens leads NU with nine stolen bases while freshman Arby Fields ranks second with five. The increase in team speed is also apparent in the number of triples Northwestern has hit. After posting just five three-base hits last season, the Wildcats rank second in the Big Ten with 11 in 2010.
Northwestern's roster features two individuals who are also key members of the Wildcats' football team which went 8-5 and participated in the Outback Bowl this past season. Sophomore outfielder Quentin Williams appeared in all 13 games on the gridiron this past fall as a defensive end, posting 14 tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery. True freshman outfielder Arby Fields also appeared in every game as a running back and led the team with 302 rushing yards to go along with five touchdowns. Fields has started all 24 games in center field and sports a .320 batting average and a team-high nine doubles. He ranks second on the team with 13 RBI and five steals.
Sophomore Zach Morton saw most of his action on the mound in 2009, while classmate Paul Snieder was primarily used as a position player a year ago. Both individuals have increased their work load with success as utility players this season. After pitching just 6 1/3 innings as a freshman, Snieder has shined on the mound in 2010. He has posted a 2.55 ERA and two saves with 16 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters to a .185 average. Snieder has also followed up on a strong finish at the plate last season as he leads Northwestern with a .385 batting average with six doubles and 11 RBI. Meanwhile, Morton has started every game and has had success with the bat as he is fourth on the team with a .319 average and had a team-best 11-game hit streak earlier this season. He has been particularly effective with runners in scoring position, batting a team-best .391 (9-23). Morton has continued to be used regularly on the mound as he's second on the team with five starts and third with 26 2/3 innings pitched.
Youth is Being Served
Northwestern is putting one of the youngest lineups in the Big Ten on the field this season. Out of a possible 216 starts by position players so far in 2010, 173 (80.1 percent) have been made by either freshmen or sophomores.
Major League Experience
The Wildcats had the good fortune of playing games at two Major League Baseball parks a year ago. That will be the case again this season. In 2009, Northwestern took on Minnesota in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The 'Cats return to the Metrodome March 5-7 to participate in the Dairy Queen Classic at the now former home of the Minnesota Twins. NU also faced off against Notre Dame at U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox) last season and this year is playing a doubleheader against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Miller Park April 28. The twinbill follows a game between the host Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Big Ten Tourney Returns to Columbus
For the second consecutive year, the Big Ten tournament is being held in Columbus, Ohio. Last year, the tournament was held at the brand-new Huntington Park, the home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. The tournament makes the move to Bill James Stadium this season, the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and is slated to be held May 26-30.
The Wildcats return to action at 3 p.m. Wednesday as they host Trinity International. NU hits the road next weekend as it travels to Penn State.