April 22, 2010
Northwestern (13-22, 5-4 Big Ten) at Purdue (22-14, 5-4 Big Ten)
Saturday, April 24, 2010; 10 a.m. CT (DH)
Sunday, April 25, 2010; 1 p.m. CT
Lambert Field (1,100)
West Lafayette, Ind.
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday - LHP David Jensen (1-2, 6.47 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Bischoff (5-1, 2.76 ERA)
Saturday - LHP Eric Jokisch (3-4, 5.06 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Morgan (3-1, 4.47 ERA)
Sunday - TBA vs. TBA
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Northwestern opens a stretch of nine straight road games as it travels to Purdue for a three-game series this weekend. Friday's game has been postponed due to rain. The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. Central time. Sunday's finale is set to get underway at 1 p.m.
Following the three games against the Boilermakers, the Wildcats make the trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee next Wednesday to play a twinbill against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. NU then heads to Illinois for another three-game Big Ten series next weekend before traveling to Gary, Ind., May 4 to face Valparaiso.
Seven Northwestern pitchers combined on a three-hitter Wednesday as the Wildcats earned a 3-1 home win over Illinois State. Freshman Luke Farrell got the start and hurled two hitless frames to pick up his first collegiate win. NU picked up solo tallies in the first, third and seventh innings. The Redbirds loaded the bases with one away in the ninth, but had to settle for one unearned run as Paul Snieder recorded the final two outs to pick up his seventh save of the season. Zach Morton and Chad Noble led the Wildcats offensively with two hits apiece.
Northwestern earned its second consecutive Big Ten series win last weekend as it won the final two games of its home set with Minnesota. After dropping Friday's opener 8-7, the Wildcats posted a 6-5 win Saturday before taking Sunday's finale by a score of 8-3.
Jokisch Returning to Form
The Boilermakers (22-14, 5-4 Big Ten) are coming off a 3-1 win over Wabash on Wednesday despite being out-hit 6-5. The victory extended Purdue's winning streak to seven straight games. Last weekend, the Boilermakers took all three games of a home series against Penn State. Freshman catcher Kevin Plawecki paces all regulars with a .371 batting average, six home runs and 35 RBI. As a team, Purdue ranks second only to Indiana in the Big Ten with 39 home runs. On the mound, senior right-hander Matt Bischoff sports a 5-1 record with a 2.76 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched.
After battling a back injury early in the season, junior left-hander Eric Jokisch
has returned to the form that helped him be named the 2008 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He is 2-0 with a 3.52 ERA in his first three Big Ten starts, including limiting Big Ten leader Ohio State to two runs over eight innings of work in a win over the Buckeyes April 3. Jokisch recorded a season-high eight strikeouts in the team's win at Penn State April 10.
Sophomore right-hander Francis Brooke has been pounding the strike zone this season. His command has been outstanding as he has struck out 36 batters while walking only six in 54 innings of work. His average of 1.0 walks per 9 innings pitch ranks ninth nationally. 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 an eight-inning appearance.
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 32 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 13 in 2010.
Boosting the Bats
The Wildcats posted a team batting average of just .264 last season, but NU has boosted that mark to .303 35 games into the 2010 campaign. Northwestern has recorded at least 12 hits in seven of its last 10 games. NU has notched at least 10 hits in a game 19 times this season, matching its total from the entire 2009 campaign.
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 315 starts by position players so far in 2010, 249 (79.0 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 34 of the team's 35 games in center field and sports a .295 batting average and a team-high 11 doubles.
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 1.85 ERA and seven saves with 24 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters to a .182 average. Snieder has also followed up on a strong finish at the plate last season as he leads Northwestern with a .393 batting average with nine doubles and 18 RBI. Meanwhile, Morton has started every game and has had success with the bat as he is third on the team with a .360 average. He recorded a team-best 11-game hit streak earlier this season and enters this weekend's series having hit safely in the last 10 contests. Morton has continued to be used regularly on the mound as he's fourth on the team with five starts and 33 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 returned 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 heads to Miller Park in Milwaukee to take on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a doubleheader. First pitch is set for approximately 4 p.m.