DEKALB, Ill. – College Baseball Central was on hand Wednesday at Ralph McKinzie Field, for some midweek action as the Northern Illinois Huskies (7-22-1) hosted the UW-Milwaukee Panthers (10-12) for a Mid-American Conference tilt. The Huskies got some great pitching from sophomore Ryan Olson (Sterling, Ill. /Newman Central Catholic), who fanned four without giving up any earned runs. Nevertheless, two eighth inning runs by the Panthers ultimately led to NIU’s defeat 3-2.
“Ryan gave us a chance to win out there today,” Head Coach Ed Mathey stated. “For a guy who hasn’t consistently been on the mound for us, I thought it was a pretty good effort.”
Continuing with the hot bat, the Huskies Justin Fletcher (Pekin, Ill. /Illinois Central) and Brian Sisler (DeKalb, Ill. /DeKalb) both accounted for two hits whereas Chris Divarco (Long Grove, Ill. /Carmel Catholic) and Sisler had one RBI respectively.
“It’s putting the ball in play and those opportunities,” Mathey continued. “If you put the ball in play, a lot of things happen that show over time. Milwaukee hung in there and played a pretty good game defensively I thought.”
Olsen started the game off with an HBP, and the Panthers finally grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the first frame after forcing two pop-ups in a row that had UWM looking like they were about to grab some pine. Mitch Ghelfi, however, ate up Huskie third baseman Carl Russell (Grayslake, Ill./Grayslake North) on a hot grounder that led to the first run of the game as well as Olsen’s only run.
Jason Gasser (Dyer, Ind. /Michigan City) came into the game after OF Alex Smith (Mahomet, Ill. / Parkland College) was tossed from the contest on a hard slide into second. Northern Illinois evened things up 1-1 in the fifth when three consecutive one-out base hits by Gasser, Russell and Sisler, eventually pushed Gasser across to score.
A two-out triple by Milwaukee’s Tell Taylor in the seventh frame, setup leadoff hitter Derek Peake – who with a full count – had a chance to bring in Taylor until he hit a fungo ball back to the pitcher, and Olson used his body to stop the ball and throw to first for the last out of the inning and leave everything knotted up at 1-1.
UMW finally broke through in the eighth frame when they scored two runs off of Dirk Ormsby (Ligonier, Ind./Kellogg Community College setting the score at 3-2, and that’s where it stayed.
Mutually UW-Milwaukee and the Huskies were subject to a fruitless ninth inning and the Panthers seized the first of four midweek contests this year.