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Northwestern Honors Paul Stevens, Then Falls to Nebraska

Northwestern dropped the weekend series to Nebraska, but picked up an unusual victory and celebrated their outgoing coach in style.

Nebraska came to Rocky Miller Park for a three game series this past weekend. Friday afternoon provided a back and forth contest, with Brandon Magallones pitching 8 innings and allowing only three runs. The offense only managed two runs, however, and the ‘Cats lost 4-2. This close game proved to be an outlier in a weekend of shutouts.

On Saturday, Matt Portland took the mound and delivered an unusual performance. Nebraska totaled 11 hits and had at least one man reach base in every inning. Portland deftly maneuvered his way out of trouble every time, earning a complete game shutout and a 5-0 victory. Sunday brought a reversal of fortune for the ‘Cats as Nebraska capitalized with runners on, pushing across 11 runs on 14 hits. Three Nebraska pitchers combined to shut out NU and win the series for the Cornhuskers.

Sunday was also Paul Stevens Day, a celebration for the outgoing coach. Before the game began, an on-field ceremony was held with Stevens’ family. The touching event was capped off with an announcement that the new plaza at Rocky Miller Park will be named Paul Stevens Plaza. While it may be hard to imagine with the dirt surrounding the stadium still roped off and cut through with bulldozer tracks, the rendering of the plaza looks gorgeous.

Walk-Up Song of the Week:

Antonio Freschet, "Safe and Sound" by Rebelution.

Freschet, a northern California native, picked a song by the southern California based Rebelution to get him in a baseball-hitting mood. To date, the song has shown mixed results. The junior was hitting .238 going into the game Sunday, with starts in only about half the games he has played in. His only extra base hit is a double, but he has as many walks as strikeouts.

This inconsistency may be reflected in his song choice, a reggae track from "Courage to Grow," the first studio album released by Rebelution. When this song came out, it was the summer before Freschet entered the eighth grade. As a former teenage boy, I can testify to the ups and downs of that time period. Perhaps Freschet remembers crushing a ball in a stickball game when he hears the song. Perhaps he remembers a strikeout with his crush in the stands. Either way, emotional consistency should be key in song choice.

I like Freschet's choice of a throwback jam from his home state. The reggae vibe resonates through Rocky Miller Park on a hot afternoon, getting more than a few heads rocking to the rhythm. Heading into next season, let’s hope we find Antonio safe and sound on base at a more consistent rate.