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Northwestern Walk-Up Music Outshines Offense in Sweep

The Wildcat walk-up music was on point throughout a weekend sweep at the hands of Ohio State. The 'Cats are back in action on Wednesday against Chicago State.

Northwestern at bat against OSU.
Northwestern at bat against OSU.

After a midweek victory over UIC, Northwestern hosted Ohio State for their first Big Ten home series. In the opener on Friday, the ‘Cats fell behind early and never recovered, falling 9-2 on a cool, damp afternoon. On Saturday, the cool, damp weather turned downright cold and wet, ending any thoughts of baseball before they got started. To make up for lost time on Saturday, NU and OSU played a doubleheader on Sunday.

With the sun shining on Rocky Miller Park, Northwestern fell behind again early and came up short in their comeback, dropping the first game, 6-3. In the final game of the series, the ‘Cats took an early two-run lead, but a long home run for Ohio State in the sixth tied the game. Fantastic pitching from each side kept the score tied at two into the 11th inning, when the Buckeyes finally broke through for three runs and a 5-2 victory.

Walk-up Song of the Week:

I would like to introduce a new section to all of you. As you may have noticed in my coverage of the Milwaukee game, I pay special attention to walk-up music. I believe these songs provide us valuable insight into the players on the field. Walk-up music is unique to baseball; basketball players do not pick a song to play every time they shoot a free throw and football players don’t get individualized songs played each time they touch the ball.

But in baseball, the players select one song that will play before every at-bat they have, whether it’s down six in the fifth inning or with the bases loaded and the game tied in extra innings. This is a tremendous responsibility for one song, to live up to every moment, to get the player appropriately excited and focused.

In short, these songs are a unique glimpse into everything these players hold sacred, and I am here to provide in depth analysis on what I think each song means. This week:

Scott Heelan, "Leave The Night On" by Sam Hunt.

To begin with, Sam Hunt was a quarterback in college, in charge of calling plays for the offense much in the same way that Heelan, as a catcher, is in charge of the Northwestern defense and pitching staff. Perhaps more striking is that Hunt got his start by writing songs for established country musicians, quietly making others successful. Often, as has been shown by the recent drive to advance catching statistics, the work that is done behind the plate goes unnoticed while the pitchers receive all the credit. It makes sense that these two men behind the scenes would be kindred spirits, especially since both are highly successful at what they do.

The first verse of "Leave The Night On" closes with this line: "And I ain’t anywhere close to tired/Your kiss has got me wired." Heelan caught 20 innings yesterday, an impressive feat, and still had the legs to throw out a runner stealing second in his last inning. Batting .323 on the year, with only seven strikeouts, the kiss of hard contact off his bat must keep Heelan fresh no matter what inning it is.

The chorus, which often plays just before Heelan bats, includes the line "We don’t have to go home/We can leave the night on." The way Heelan is playing this year, I wouldn’t blame him for hoping the season never ends. But unfortunately, as Hunt notes "The sun will steal the magic from us soon," just as eligibility will steal Heelan’s hot bat from this Northwestern squad in a few short months. I think Hunt would be proud, though, that Heelan is putting on a show before the clock runs out on his career and quietly making those around him better.