Northwestern baseball snapped a six-game losing streak with a win last Friday in the first game of a doubleheader against San Diego State. Instead of putting together back-to-back wins, the Wildcats lost the second game and then began a new skid this weekend against Cincinnati, losing all three games against the Bearcats, now winners of eight straight.
Spencer Allen's team, just eight days away from its home opener at the new Rocky and Berenice Miller Park, dropped Saturday and Sunday's games by just one run apiece but was blown out in the series finale, 10-3, on Monday afternoon. The Wildcats (5-14) are just 1-10 in their last 11 games and have only one win so far in the month of March.
In Game 1, Reed Mason got the start for Northwestern and threw 6 strong innings, allowing just one run in the 4th inning on a Treg Haberkorn single to right field. However, the Wildcats managed only 2 hits against Cincinnati starter Andrew Zellner, who threw a complete game shutout with 7 strikeouts. Zellner faced just one more batter than the minimum and had Northwestern under control all day, wasting strong efforts from Mason and Pete Hofman (2 scoreless innings of relief and leading to a 1-0 Bearcats' victory.
Sunday's game was also a close one, as Cincinnati used a 3-run 8th inning against Tommy Bordignon to grab a 6-5 win. Usual outfielder (and sometimes pitcher) Matt Hopfner started his first game of the season on the mound and held Cincinnati to one run in 4.1 innings before giving way to Bordignon, who gave up 2 runs in the 6th and 3 runs in the 8th to earn his second loss.
A Zach Jones triple and Jake Schieber sacrifice fly in the top of the 1st gave Northwestern an early lead and the Wildcats tacked on 3 more in the 4th and 5th to go up 5-0. Hopfner gave a run back in the bottom of the 5th on a Willie Bourbon error before giving way to Bordignon, who, with the help of a few errors committed behind him, let the Bearcats finish up the comeback attempt.
Instead of salvaging the three-game set on Monday afternoon, the Wildcats lost a laugher on Monday, as Dan Kubiuk got roughed up in his third collegiate start. The walk-on, given a 1-0 lead in the 1st on a Hopfner RBI double, allowed 4 runs in the bottom of the frame and gave up 8 hits in his 2 innings. Danny Katz and Justin Yoss entered in relief and let Cincinnati add 5 more runs over the next 3 innings.
The Wildcats got 2 runs back in the 7th, due to a balk drawn by J.R. Reimer and a run-scoring single from Jack Dunn, but it wasn't nearly enough to make it competitive. The final score ended up at 10-3 as the Wildcats dropped their second series in as many weekends.
Thankfully, due to spring break, Northwestern can get back on the right track Tuesday afternoon against the Northern Kentucky Norse. Then, as the Wildcats continue an Ohio/Kentucky road trip, they'll play Miami (Ohio) on Wednesday before beginning their Big Ten season with a three-game series at Ohio State starting on Friday.