Sept. 30, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. -- With a year of bragging rights on the line, the Northwestern Wildcats came through in the clutch to score a pair of runs in their last at-bat Sunday at Rocky Miller Park to knock off a talented team of baseball alums, 2-1.
Jake Owens, Northwestern's single-season leader in hits attempted to get the alumni offense going in the top of the first inning when he legged out a one-out triple to deep centerfield off of NU starting pitcher Zach Morton. The right-hander hunkered down and retired Chris Lashmet and Jason Krynski to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning, Northwestern's Kyle Ruchim sliced a ball to the left centerfield gap, but Aaron Newman tracked it down and made a great diving stab to end the inning.
Strong pitching and solid defense was the name of the game for both teams over the next several frames. Alum Mike Phelps laced a single up the middle off of Luke Farrell, but he was gunned down try to steal second by Farrell and catcher Scott Heelan to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, Heelan reached first base on a dribbler to no man's land up the first-base line, but he too was thrown out trying to swipe second base.
The alumni put together their first scoring threat in the top of the sixth inning against NU reliever Jack Quigley. Tommy Dodge and Newman both reach base to start the inning. Owens, in his second at-bat of the day, tried to sacrifice both runners up 90 feet, but his attempt went hard to first baseman Jack Quigley, who fired to third base to force Dodge.
With Lashmet at the dish, Quigley appeared to catch Newman leaning too far off second, but an errant throw allowed him to move to third base and Owens to second. The current 'Cats toyed with the idea of issuing the former slugger and current Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand an intentional walk to load the bases for Krynski, but thought better of it. Lashmet rolled out to Morton at second base, but he had done enough to plate Newman and give the alums a 1-0 lead after five-and-a-half innings of play.
Northwestern went down in order against 2012 graduate Michael Jahns in the sixth inning and Ruchim retired his counterparts without further damage to open the seventh and final inning of play.
Needing a run to tie and two to win, sophomore Cody Libman was hit by an errant offering from Jahns to start the home half. Libman was lifted for pinch runner Antonio Freschet The freshman moved to second after classmate RJ Watters set down a perfect sacrifice bunt and he later scurried to third on a wild pitch.
With fifth-year senior Trevor Stevens in the box, Jahns' battery mate Geoff Rowan tried to catch Freschet too far off the bag, but third baseman Paul Snieder couldn't handle the throw and the infielder scored to tie the game at 1-1.
After Stevens grounded out sharply, the next three batters, Morton, Ruchim and Havey all reached to load the bases for another freshman, Zach Jones. The Glenview, Ill., native worked a full count against Jahns and finally drew ball four to allow Morton to score the game-winning run for the Wildcats.
Ruchim, the seventh pitcher of the game for NU, collected the win for the current team. In addition to Ruchim, Morton, Farrell and Quigley, Brandon Magallones, Matt Portland and Reed Mason all saw action on the bump.
Julio Siberio, Dan Schwartz, John Seaman and Andrew Smith also toed the rubber for the alumni.
Before the game, the alums engaged in batting practice and a home run derby, with Anthony Wycklendt fending off all challengers to take the crown.
Sunday's game was the culmination of the 2012 Alumni Weekend. Other events included a golf outing at Wilmette Country Club and dinner on Friday and a tailgate surrounding Northwestern's 44-29 win over Indiana on the gridiron Saturday.
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