If Jacob Key has any weaknesses, Northwestern’s hitters would like to be let in on the secret.
Facing the Wildcats (8-19) for the third time, the UIC freshman starter tossed yet another gem as the Flames (18-7) won 3-0 at Curtis Granderson Stadium in Chicago on Tuesday night.
Key — who improved to 4-0 on the season — pitched six strong innings and struck out three Wildcats while allowing just two hits. The Tennessee native has started all three of the cross-city meetings, winning all three. He gave up a pair in runs in six innings on March 7 and tossed 3 1⁄3 one-run frames two weeks later. Both of those previous wins came in Evanston.
Josh Davis got the start for the Wildcats and cruised through the first two innings before running into trouble in the bottom of the 3rd. A David Cronin RBI single got the scoring started and a Scott Ota groundout scored Thomas Norton to give UIC an early 2-0 lead.
Northwestern’s offense was kept off-balance by Key all game, and managed just a walk against the three Flames relievers who handled the 7th, 8th and 9th innings. Singles from Jack Dunn and Willie Bourbon were the Wildcats’ only hits.
Cooper Wetherbee, who got the win against Chicago State last week, threw three innings in relief of Davis and allowed a run on four hits. Danny Katz got the Flames out in order in the 8th.
The Wildcats were originally scheduled to welcome Illinois State to Evanston on Wednesday afternoon, but the game was canceled due to inclement weather. They’ll stay in town this weekend for a three-game Big Ten series against the Iowa Hawkeyes.