May 6, 2010
Northwestern (20-25, 9-6 Big Ten) vs. Indiana (21-21, 7-8 Big Ten)
Friday, May 7, 2010; 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 8, 2010; 1 p.m.
Sunday, May 9, 2010; 1 p.m.
Rocky Miller Park (1,000)
Streaming Video: Wildcats All Access (Friday only)
Audio: 89.3 FM WNUR (Saturday only) and sports.wnur.org (all 3 games)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
Probable Pitching Matchups
LHP Jack Havey (2-0, 3.93 ERA) vs. RHP Drew Leininger (6-3, 3.38 ERA)
LHP Eric Jokisch (3-5, 4.68 ERA) vs. TBA
TBA vs. TBA
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Winners of its last four Big Ten series, Northwestern hosts Indiana in a three-game set at Rocky Miller Park. Friday's opener is set for 3 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday's contests get underway at 1 p.m. The Wildcats enter play this weekend tied with Michigan for first place in the conference standings at 9-6.
NU has won 10 of its last 13 games, including posting a 10-8 come-from-behind win over Valparaiso in Gary, Ind., on Tuesday and a 14-5 home victory over Chicago on Wednesday. The Wildcats also took two of three games at Illinois last weekend. Northwestern used an eight-run sixth inning to rally from a 7-2 deficit in the win over the Crusaders. The following day, the 'Cats trailed 5-1 early on against the Maroons before scoring the final 13 runs of the game.
Sophomore Paul Snieder has led the way for Northwestern, batting 12-for-20 over the last six contests with five multi-hit games. He is 7-for-10 with four doubles and three home runs (2.000 slugging percentage) in NU's three most recent games. Snieder is first on the team with 25 multi-hit contests and has safely reached base in 39 of the team's 45 games. He has also saved two of the Wildcats' last three wins and has 10 saves on the season.
Jokisch Returns to Form
The Hoosiers (21-21, 7-8 Big Ten) have lost six of their last eight games, including dropping two of their three games to in-state rival Purdue last weekend. Indiana's opponents have scored at least 10 runs in its last five games. Alex Dickerson paces the Hoosiers with 16 doubles, 18 home runs, 57 RBI and a .804 slugging percentage to go along with a .413 batting average. Jerrud Sabourin's .419 average is tops on the squad. IU far and away leads the Big Ten with 61 home runs as a team. Drew Leininger paces the pitching staff with a 6-3 record and a 3.38 ERA, while Chris Squires is 4-1 with a 3.63 ERA and six saves out of the bullpen.
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 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA in his first five Big Ten starts, including limiting 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. The only loss was by a 2-1 margin at Purdue April 24 as he was opposed by Boilermaker ace Matt Bischoff.
Sophomore right-hander Francis Brooke has been pounding the strike zone this season. His command has been outstanding as he has struck out 40 batters while walking only six in 67.1 innings of work. His average of 0.80 walks per 9 innings pitch ranks fifth 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. He also went all nine innings, allowing one earned run, in an 11-4 victory at Illinois April 30 and leads all NU pitchers with five wins. Freshman southpaw Jack Havey also has an outstanding strikeout-to-walk ratio, fanning 24 batters while walking only four in 18.1 innings pitched. Havey was stellar in a six-inning relief appearance against Milwaukee at Miller Park April 28, retiring all 18 batters he faced.
A large reason for Northwestern's recent hot streak has been the performance of its pitching staff. The Wildcats have allowed more than six runs in a game just three times over last 18 games dating back to April 9. Over that span, NU has lowered its team ERA over a full point from 6.55 to 5.51. Take out a disasterous opening weekend of the season, and Northwestern's ERA this season drops to 4.90. The Wildcats lead the Big Ten with a .263 opponents batting average in conference play and rank second with a 4.56 ERA against league opponents.
Boosting the Bats
The Wildcats posted a team batting average of just .264 last season, but NU has boosted that mark 40 points to .304 45 games into the 2010 campaign. NU has notched at least 10 hits in a game 26 times this season after doing so 19 times throughout the entire 2009 campaign.
NU couldn't have been considered a power-hitting team through the majority of this season as the Wildcats hit only 15 home runs in their first 40 games. However, Northwestern has shown the ability to leave the yard lately. After managing just three homers in their first 12 Big Ten games, the Wildcats hit eight in their three-game series at Illinois last weekend. Including recent midweek games against Valparaiso and Chicago, the 'Cats have gone deep in a season-high five straight games (10 HR).
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 405 starts by position players so far in 2010, 316 (78.0 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 pitcher/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. Williams hurled two shutout innings of relief Wednesday to earn his first collegiate win. 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 44 of the team's 45 games in center field and sports a .293 batting average with 11 doubles and a team-high five home runs. He hit three home runs in last weekend's series against Illinois, including socking a grand slam and a three-run homer in an 11-4 win April 30. His seven RBI in the contest are the most by a Northwestern player in a game since David Gresky had 10 against Chicago State April 15, 2003.
Useful Utility, Part 1
Sophomore Paul Snieder was primarily used as a position player a year ago, but has taken on an added work load this season. After pitching just 6 1/3 innings as a freshman, Snieder has shined on the mound in 2010. He has posted a 1.99 ERA and 10 saves with 29 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings pitched while limiting opposing batters to a .177 average. The 10 saves are two shy of the school single-season record of 12 established by Chris Nichting in 1986. In 19 appearances this season, he has been scored upon just three times. Snieder has been equally impressive at the plate this season. He ranks second in the Big Ten in on-base percentage (.473), third in batting average (.400) and hits (70), sixth in doubles (16) and seventh in slugging percentage (.594).
Useful Utility, Part 2
Zach Morton performed in the opposite role of Snieder during his freshman season in 2009. He was used primarily as a pitcher a year ago, but has started 42 games this season, mainly at second base. Morton has had success with the bat as he is third on the team with a .349 average and has hitting streaks of 11 and 10 games to his credit this season. He leads the team with 28 walks and his corresponding .458 on-base percentage ranks seventh in the Big Ten. He has continued to be used regularly on the mound as he's fourth on the team with five starts and 39 innings pitched, while striking out 39 batters.
Noble Named to Bench Award Watch List
Northwestern catcher Chad Noble is enjoying an outstanding senior season and has been named to the 2010 Johnny Bench Award Watch List as a result. The Rockwall, Texas, native is second on the team with a .366 batting average, first with four triples fourth with 22 RBI. Behind the plate, he has helped mentor a young pitching staff and has thrown out 40 percent of baserunners attempting to steal (14 of 35).
Northwestern returns to action next Tuesday as it hosts UIC at Rocky Miller Park. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter and become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! Get the latest news, schedule updates, video and interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!