April 6, 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. -
The Big Ten season did not start exactly how Northwestern planned. A rough start against Michigan put NU behind the eight ball early. But, the great thing about baseball is there are 28 more conference games to right the ship.
The righting of that proverbial ship begins this weekend when the Wildcats travel to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Hoosiers in a four-game series at Sembower Field. Game one of the series is set for 1 p.m. (CT) Saturday afternoon.
Indiana enters the series with an 11-11 overall record and a 1-3 mark in the Big Ten. They dropped three games to Michigan State in Bloomington last weekend. They also had a Tuesday mid-week game at Ball State canceled because of inclement weather.
Prior to its first loss to MSU, IU had won seven in a row.
Offensively, the Hoosiers are led by freshman infielder Evan Crawford. He has started all 22 games and is hitting .388 (31-for-80). Crawford has a team-high 14 RBI and is second with 10 stolen bases. Sophomore outfielder Andrew Means is a close second with a .363 (29-for-80) batting average. He leads the squad with 13 steals 16 runs. Indiana has hit just one home run as a team and are hitting .272 as an entire squad.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Tyler Tufts leads the pitching staff with a 2.79 ERA in six starts. His resume includes one complete game and 43.2 innings overall. Freshman lefty Matt Bashore boasts a 3-2 record with a 2.86 ERA in five starts. He has pitched 34.2 innings and has given up just 27 hits. Opponents are hitting just .216 against the first-year player.
On offense for Northwestern, third baseman Jake Owens leads the team with a .384 (33-for-86) batting average, 17 RBI and 17 runs scored. He is tied Aaron Newman for the team lead with nine stolen bases. Junior Antonio Mulé is hitting .364 with a team-high three home runs and six doubles.
On the mound for the `Cats, senior Dan Schwartz leads the team with 29.1 innings pitched. Ryan Myers has a team-leading 24 strikeouts. Schwartz has 22.
The Deadliest Catch
Catchers Geoff Dietz and Chad Noble have combined to throw out nine would-be base stealers so far this season. They have combined to hit four home runs and drive in 19 RBI. Since Dietz has returned to the lineup as a starting catcher (did not catch any of the first 14 games because of injury), he is hitting .308 with two home runs and six RBI. Noble has started 17 games and has driven in 10 RBI and is the only Wildcat in the lineup with a triple.
The Last Three Series With Indiana
The Wildcats are 8-4 in the last three series (regular season only) against the Hoosiers. The last time NU traveled to Bloomington was in 2005 where Indiana won the Friday opener 15-9, before the Wildcats swept the final three games.
2006--Northwestern 3, Indiana 1 in Evanston
2005--Northwestern 3, Indiana 1 in Bloomington
2004--Northwestern 2, Indiana 2 in Evanston
Adjusting Just Fine
Northwestern's freshmen class (and one new sophomore) needed little time to adjust to collegiate baseball. In 21 games so far this season, the Wildcat newcomers have scored 29 runs, driven in 28 and hit eight doubles. Jake Goebbert, Kenneth Avila, Chad Noble and Jim Grieco have all seen significant time in the field. Goebbert has started all 21 games.
Swinging the Sticks
Unlike last season's slow offensive start, Northwestern hitters are putting the bat on the ball early this year. Through 21 games, NU is hitting .294 as a team with 36 doubles. They are on pace to hit 96 doubles, which would place them fifth on the all-time doubles list in a single season. Junior Antonio Mulé leads NU with six two-baggers.
Every player who has started at least one game this season has hit at least one double. Any player with six starts or more has hit at least two.
We're Going Streaking!
Junior Jake Owens has started every game he has played since walking on campus in 2005. His consecutive games started streak is at 109 games and counting. As a freshman, Owens started the first 29 games of the season before being sidelined with a season-ending injury. But the Wisconsin native bounced back and started all 59 games in 2006 and was third on the team with a .319 average. Owens' 75 hits last season was eighth best in school history and one behind Antonio Mulé's team-leading 76. Owens has started all 21 this year.
In Northwestern's 21 games in 2007, five freshman and one junior newcomer have accounted for 97.1 of NU's 176.0 innings pitched. Lefty Joe Muraski leads the way with 25.2 innings pitched, followed by Cole Livermore (24.2), David Jensen (14.1), Matt Diedrich (13.0) and Jonathan Purcell (12.0). Junior Bo Schultz has pitched 7.2 innings as well.