Close games have been the norm for Northwestern baseball this season, but one of the main reasons the Wildcats have struggled so far in Spencer Allen's first year is that they just haven't won very many of them.
Northwestern got swept by the Indiana Hoosiers (26-16 overall, 11-4 Big Ten) this past weekend in Bloomington and lost the three games by a total of three runs. Due to inclement weather in the area, the Wildcats (10-33, 2-16) and Hoosiers played a doubleheader on Friday and — with an unplanned day off on Saturday — concluded the series on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats are now 1-11 in one-run games this season.
Reed Mason got the start for Northwestern in the first game of Friday's doubleheader and was given a 1st inning run to work with as Joe Hoscheit drove in Jack Dunn with a RBI single against Indiana's Kyle Hart. However, that would be the only run the Wildcats scored all game, as Mason got the loss even though he pitched a strong 6 innings of 4-hit and 2-run ball.
Hart spread out nine hits over his 6 innings before Thomas Belcher entered. He shut the door on Northwestern and threw 2.1 scoreless innings to earn his seventh save of the year. Dunn, Hoscheit, Zach Jones and Jake Schieber all notched two hits on the day but, outside of that 1st inning Hoscheit single, those hits came when guys weren't on base or not in scoring position.
In Game 2, the Wildcats got on the board first yet again as a 2nd inning Grant Peikert single scored Connor Lind to put Northwestern up 1-0. Joe Schindler, getting his second start since coming back from his suspension, shut out Indiana for 5.2 innings. Then, after another Peikert RBI single in the 4th and a Jack Claeys sacrifice fly, Northwestern was up 3-0 in the bottom of the 8th.
Josh Davis entered in relief of Jake Stolley, who got through 1.1 innings unscathed after coming in for Schindler. He immediately gave up an inside-the-park home run to Brian Wilhite and was replaced by Richard Fordon, who allowed two hits and two runs without retiring a batter to let the Hoosiers tie the game up at 3.
After Northwestern didn't get anything across in the top of the 9th, Tyler Lass -- who finished off the 8th -- gave up a pair of singles to put the game-winning run on third with two outs. He did his job in getting Craig Dedelow to hit a grounder to first baseman Zach Jones, but he misplayed it, allowing Tony Butler to cross the plate for the win.
Saturday was an off day for both sides due to weather and Sunday's game started bright and early, at 11:06 a.m. ET. Tommy Bordignon started for Northwestern and allowed 3 runs in 3 innings before giving way to Dan Kubiuk, who hasn't come out of the bullpen much lately. Indiana's Evan Bell held the Wildcats to one run in 5.1 innings.
In the 7th, with Northwestern down 5-1 and headed for another tough loss, the Wildcats loaded the bases with no outs and got a Matt Hopfner RBI single to get within three runs of the Hoosiers. Then, Joe Hoscheit crushed a grand slam to right off Paul Milto to stunningly give the Wildcats a 6-5 lead. But, Pete Hofman gave the lead right back in the bottom of the frame with two unearned runs on Connor Lind and Willie Bourbon errors. Northwestern was held off the scoreboard by Jake Kelzer in the last two innings as Indiana took the finale, 7-6.
The Wildcats get right back on the horse this Wednesday at UIC before starting a three-game Big Ten series with Purdue in Evanston over the weekend.