April 16, 2010
Northwestern (10-21, 3-3 Big Ten) vs. Minnesota (13-20, 3-3 Big Ten)
Fri., April 16, 2010; 3 p.m.
Sat., April 17, 2010; 1 p.m.
Sun., April 18, 2010; 1 p.m.
Rocky Miller Park (1,000)
Streaming Video: NUsports.com (Sunday only)
Audio: sports.wnur.org (all three games) and 89.3 FM WNUR (Friday only)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday - RHP Francis Brooke (3-2, 4.25 ERA) vs. RHP Seth Rosin (2-3, 4.01 ERA)
Saturday - LHP Eric Jokisch (2-4, 5.30 ERA) vs. RHP TJ Oakes (2-2, 3.69 ERA)
Sunday - LHP Joe Muraski (0-5, 7.09 ERA) vs. LHP Phil Isaksson (2-0, 4.06 ERA)
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Winners of three of its last four games, the Northwestern baseball team returns home to Rocky Miller Park this weekend to host a three-game Big Ten series against Minnesota. Friday's game is set for 3 p.m., while first pitch is set for 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The Wildcats (10-21, 3-3 Big Ten) scored one run in the eighth and two more in the ninth to defeat Northern Illinois 6-3 in Rockford, Ill., Wednesday night. Chris Lashmet broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the eighth by leading off the inning with a home run. Zach Morton also homered in the contest--a two-run shot in the first inning--and drove in three runs. Freshman left-hander Jack Havey allowed one run over four innings of relief to earn his first collegiate win.
Northwestern won the first two games of its three-game series at Penn State last weekend. The Wildcats scored six runs in the top of the eighth inning to win Friday's opener 11-5. Lashmet went 4-for-5 with four RBI. NU outlasted the Nittany Lions in Saturday's second game, winning 3-2 in 11 innings. Geoff Rowan's RBI double in the top of the 11th was the difference. Penn State was able to capture Sunday's back-and-forth finale, 6-5.
Minnesota won all three games played between the teams last year at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
The Golden Gophers (13-20, 3-3 Big Ten) are coming off a 5-3 home loss to South Dakota State at the Metrodome Wednesday night. Minnesota won two of three games against Purdue to open the Big Ten season before dropping two of three to Michigan State last weekend. AJ Pettersen leads all regulars with a .338 batting average, while Michael Kvasnicka it hitting .328 with team highs of 13 doubles, five home runs and 27 RBI. TJ Oakes paces all starting pitchers with a 3.69 ERA to go along with a 2-2 record. Scott Matyas sports a 2.93 ERA with a 2-1 record and three saves in 12 relief appearances.
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 4.25 ERA. His command has been outstanding as he has struck out 34 batters while walking only five.
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 30 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 10 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 12 in 2010.
Northwestern's two home runs against Northern Illinois Wednesday marked the first time the Wildcats had a round-tripper since they hit two against Cornell March 22. NU went 12 straight games without leaving the yard.
Boosting the Bats
The Wildcats posted a team batting average of just .264 last season, but NU has boosted that mark to .294 31 games into the 2010 campaign. Northwestern has recorded at least 12 hits in five of their last six games. NU notched at 10 hits in a game 16 times this season after doing so on 19 occasions in 2009.
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 279 starts by position players so far in 2010, 222 (79.6 percent) have been made by either freshmen or sophomores.
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 31 games in center field and sports a .293 batting average and a team-high 11 doubles. He ranks third on the team with 15 RBI.
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 2.18 ERA and four saves with 20 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters to a .162 average. Snieder has also followed up on a strong finish at the plate last season as he leads Northwestern with a .390 batting average with nine doubles and 16 RBI. Meanwhile, Morton has started every game and has had success with the bat as he is third on the team with a .344 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 .394 (13-33). Morton has continued to be used regularly on the mound as he's fourth on the team with five starts and 31 innings pitched.
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.
Northwestern returns to action Wednesday as it hosts Illinois State at Rocky Miller Park. The Wildcats travel to Purdue next weekend.
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