On a day without offensive leaders Joe Hoscheit and Alex Erro in the lineup, the Northwestern Wildcats (11-20, 2-4) hit a season-high seven extra-base hits en route to a dominant 11-4 win over the Western Michigan Broncos (13-15, 3-6 MAC) in a non-conference matchup Tuesday afternoon.
Filling in for Hoscheit in left field was freshman Leo Kaplan, who lined his first career home run as part of a 2-4 day. The Southern California native has six hits in his last twelve at bats, including six RBI and five runs.
Catcher Jack Claeys broke out of a 2-16 slump with an RBI single in the first inning to open the scoring, then added two-run homer in the seventh inning. Connor Lind followed up Claey’s home run with a solo shot of his own, the first time the ‘Cats have gone back to back since March 30, 2016 against Chicago State.
With three home runs Tuesday afternoon, the Wildcats have launched five round-trippers so far in the month of April, amounting to nearly half of their season total of 11.
Northwestern scored in each of the first three innings, adding two runs on an error in the second inning. In the third, doubles from Matt Hopfner and Jake Schieber expanded the Wildcat lead to 4-0. Hopfner and Schieber were among five Wildcats who enjoyed multi-hit days.
Senior Josh Davis held his opponents scoreless until the fifth inning, when the Broncos got on the board on an RBI groundout. Broncos center fielder Tanner Allison launched a two-run shot in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 4-3,but Davis still turned in a quality start, fanning a career high five batters over six strong innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Kaplan scampered home on a Western Michigan wild pitch before Northwestern blew the game open in the late innings.
The Wildcat pitching staff struck out a season-high twelve batters while only walking one, a positive sign given Northwestern’s recent control issues. Lefties Richard Fordon and Cooper Weatherbee added scoreless innings of relief and combined for five strikeouts.
Northwestern heads to Peoria to face Bradley (12-16, 0-3 Missouri Valley) tomorrow night at 7:00 pm CST before a weekend series at Illinois.