DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois baseball team (5-21-1) hosted Toledo for a doubleheader at Ralph McKinzie Field Saturday, and a five-run first inning in the first contest put NIU down 5-0 before they even had a chance to bat. Senior LHP Ryan Wilkinson would need nothing else as he went on to pitch a stellar game leading Toledo (12-15) to a 10-4 win. Toledo concluded the doubleheader sweep with a 6-4 win in the second contest. The Rockets move to .500 with the two convincing victories and sit at 4-4 in MAC baseball conference play as a result. The Huskies fought back late in both games but now fall to 2-6 in league play.
“Toledo deserved both these wins today in my opinion,” NIU head coach Ed Mathey admitted. “I hate to say that but it’s true. I thought we were building some momentum at the end of game one and coming into game two, but we just weren’t able to sustain it.”
Three RBIs from senior C James Miglin (2-of-5, 2 R) along with three runs scored by senior LF Tyler Grogg (2-of-4), put the Rockets on the road to victory.
Senior DH Jacob North (3-for-5, 2 RBI) and junior 3B Dan Zuchowski (2-of-3, 2 RBI) correspondingly had multi-hit performances for Toledo.
For eight innings of ball Wilkinson refused NIU any scores and came close to getting the complete game, but was pulled in the bottom of the ninth after NIU junior pinch-hitter Micah McCullough plastered a home run around the bottom of the left field foul pole for a grand slam.
The beginning of the game was riddled with Huskie errors as Toledo blasted for five runs. A bases-loaded walk to Zuchowski combined with fielder-choice groundouts after Miglin and freshman LF Jordan Kesson scored the Rockets’ first three runs. North was responsible for Toledo’s last two runs on a two-out base hit through the left side of the infield..
Two Miglin base hits scored Grogg in the second and fourth innings then Grogg followed up with a hit to his own credit in the fifth to push the Rockets in front 8-0.
Two insurance runs in the eighth from Zuchowski’s RBI single and Kesson’s RBI double shut the door on the Huskies hopes.
Freshman LF Jordan Kesson, had three hits and sophomore SS Deion Tansel, senior C James Miglin, sophomore RF Ryan Callahan and sophomore 1B Tyler Baar each unruffled two hits apiece as the Toledo Rockets assembled a 13 hit performance in the second game of the DH to take down the Huskies 6-4.
Freshman RHP Sam Shutes (2-1) only allowed four hits on his way to picking up the win and gave up only two earned runs in 6.1 innings pitched.
Toledo jumped on NIU quick again in the first frame when they put together a two-out rally to score the game’s first run. Junior 3B Dan Zuchowski was walked and then promptly stole second base before being knocked home by Callahan.
A base hit by Kesson in the fourth frame put UT up 2-0 then Huskie RHP Eli Anderson was called for a balk that resulted in Baar scoring to make it 3-0 Rockets.
Grogg and Miglin continued their dominance from game one with RBI singles in the seventh inning, whereas Zuchowski’s groundout accounted for another score to bring Toledo up 6-0.
A late rally by the Huskies in the bottom of the seventh brought them within two runs of the Rockets, but fell short leaving the final tally 6-4 in favor of Toledo.
Great relief pitching from junior RHP Andrew Marra and senior RHP Adam Tyson throughout the eighth and ninth innings sewed up the victory for the Rockets.
The two teams will finish up their three-game set tomorrow with a single game scheduled for 1:05 p.m. CDT first pitch.