May 21, 2013
All-Big Ten Honorees
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Three Northwestern Wildcats have been named to 2013 All-Big Ten teams as voted upon by the conference's 11 head coaches, the league office announced Tuesday. NU's Luke Farrell and Zach Morton each earned a place on the second team and Kyle Ruchim secured a spot on the third team.
Farrell turned in one of the top season-long performances by a Northwestern pitcher in quite some time to earn his first-ever All-Big Ten nod. The right-hander posted plenty of eye-catching metrics for the 'Cats; he finished the regular season with a 2.13 ERA, the fourth lowest in the Big Ten this year and the 10th-best all-time in program history. Farrell finished second in the conference with 81 strikeouts and opponents batted just .218 against the Westlake, Ohio, native, a number that ranked as the third-lowest rate in the league.
In conference play, Farrell continued to elevate his efforts. The 6-foot-6-inch hurler led the Big Ten in strikeouts (52), innings pitched (57.1) and opposing batting average (.202) in conference games. He surrendered only 10 earned runs against in-conference foes and notched a 1.57 ERA, the second lowest in the group.
Farrell collected two Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors in the span of three weeks during conference play. His first recognition came after he fired a complete game, three-hit shutout with nine strikeouts and no walks against the Michigan Wolverines on a memorable evening at Wrigley Field on April 20. Two weeks later, in his final start at Rocky Miller Park, Farrell stifled the Ohio State Buckeyes by ceding just a pair of hits in eight innings to go along with eight strikeouts.
The right-hander struck out at least five hitters in 10 of his 12 starts, and five times he fanned eight or more. Farrell set down a career-high 12 in six innings during his first start of the season on Feb. 24 at Lipscomb. On that sunny Sunday afternoon he caught half of his victims looking and whiffed five of the final six hitters he faced in an 11-4 win for the Wildcats.
Joining Farrell on the All-Big Ten second team as a second baseman is fifth-year senior Zach Morton. Evanston's very own was a key cog in the middle of Northwestern's lineup this season. Morton, who also earned All-Big Ten honors at second base in 2010, batted .290 with 11 extra-base hits and a team-high 31 RBI. Six of his 10 doubles on the season came during Big Ten play. The fifth-year senior also had a team-best five sacrifice flies while scoring 22 runs and adding three stolen bases.
Morton, who started all but one game during his final collegiate campaign, had 10 multi-RBI games to lead Northwestern this season. He turned in several memorable performances at the dish, but perhaps none more notable than when he went 3-for-4 with a pair of run-scoring doubles against Michigan at the Friendly Confines. That game marked Morton's first start of the season at his familiar position on the right side of the infield in conference play.
Aside from contributing so much at the plate, Morton proved to be one of the top two-way players in the Big Ten this season because he also served as a critical component on NU's pitching staff. In 13 starts on the bump, Morton compiled a career-best 2.86 ERA, ranking 10th in the conference in that category. He ranked seventh overall in innings pitched with a career-high 85.0, despite the fact that the Wildcats played fewer games than every other squad because of complications resulting from soggy spring weather. Morton matched a career high with three wins on the hill and turned in an extraordinary stretch when he went 26.2-consecutive innings without yielding an earned run between Feb. 22 and March 22.
Another two-way talent, junior Kyle Ruchim, was named as an All-Big Ten third-team outfielder. The Buffalo Grove, Ill., native cocluded the season ranked amongst the Big Ten leaders in several offensive categories. Ruchim finished in a three-way tie for second with 16 doubles, a league-leading 10 of which came during conference play. The slugger also ranked fourth amongst all hitters in batting average (.365), slugging percentage (.533) and on-base percentage (.441).
Ruchim paced the 'Cats with 61 hits in 2013, 21 of which went for extra bases. The first-time All-Big Ten honoree led Northwestern with 89 total bases, ranked second with 10 stolen bases and third on the club with 26 RBI. The junior recorded 18 multi-hit games to lead the squad and he ripped off two separate 12-game hitting streaks during the season, including an active one to end the year. Ruchim hit safely in 34 of the 42 games he played this season and posted three-or-more hits in seven of those contests.
Like Morton, Ruchim served in a true utility role as he contributed 34.2 innings in 16 appearances out of the bullpen. The right-handed closer led the Wildcats with three saves and ranked second on the team with four wins. Ruchim was the pitcher of record during memorable extra-inning wins against North Dakota State, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan. In his outing against the Illini on April 26, the Stevenson H.S., graduate tossed a career-high five innings and struck out a personal-best eight hitters in the process.
Fifth-year senior Trevor Stevens was also recognized Tuesday as Northwestern's Big Ten Sportsmanship award recipient. The shortstop started all 48 games for the Wildcats and played in all 438.0 innings. Stevens departs the program with his name littered through the all-time record book. Amongst others, the Glenview, Ill., native ranks second in NU annals in at-bats (787), seventh in stolen bases (51), 10th in games played (203) and tied for 10th in hits (225).
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