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Baseball: NU swept at Mizzou as pitchers continue to struggle mightily

Northwestern baseball isn’t doing so hot right now.

@NUCatsBaseball

After decent road showings against Duke and Georgia Tech in its last two series, Northwestern (4-9) was swept at Missouri (9-5) this past weekend. The Wildcats lost a late lead on Friday and fell 3-2, before surrendering 25 runs in the final two games of the series.

The Tigers are an SEC team, but they’re not a particularly good one. And while the Wildcats did well to steal a game in Durham and in Atlanta earlier in the season, another frustrating series means Northwestern baseball is not in a great place right now.

In all fairness to NU, playing only road games to start the season is tough and worth noting. The Cats has now travelled to play four weekends in a row, and won’t get to play a series at home until Purdue comes to Evanston for the weekend of March 22 to open up conference play. The Wildcats do have their first home game of the season this afternoon against MacMurray College, a Division III program.

The tough away schedule doesn’t make the stats any more bearable.

Northwestern has a -42 run differential through just 13 games. They have a team ERA of 7.28 and are allowing nearly eight runs per game overall. They still haven’t won a series.

Here’s a look at how Northwestern’s starters have fared on the mound this year:

Northwestern Starting Pitching

Pitcher Games Started ERA W-L BB SO
Pitcher Games Started ERA W-L BB SO
Quinn Lavelle 4 2.01 1-1 6 17
Hank Christie 4 8.5 0-2 5 18
Ryan Bader 3 10.5 0-2 10 9
Sam Lawrence 2 6.35 1-2 7 9

Quinn Lavelle, the sophomore southpaw, has been the only consistent Northwestern starter through the first month of the season. After a few strong showing to start the season, junior Hank Christie has began to slide as evident by his tough outing this past weekend at Missouri. Making the Saturday start after being bumped from the top slot by Lavelle, Christie had his worst performance of the season thus far, giving up eight earned runs and eight hits in just 2.1 innings.

Things don’t look much better for the Northwestern bullpen, which gave up eight runs on Saturday and five more on Sunday.

Northwestern Relievers

Pitcher ERA IP BB SO
Pitcher ERA IP BB SO
Nick Paciorek 2.35 7.2 5 13
Anthony Alepra 3.68 7.1 3 5
Tommy D'Alise 3.86 2.1 1 1
Parker Hanks 6.75 5.1 2 7
Josh Levy 7.2 5 4 5
Nick Cauley 8.31 4.1 3 2
Jack Pagliarini 10.57 7.2 10 7
Matt Gannon 15.43 2.1 1 4
Danny Katz 21.6 1.2 1 1
Mike Doherty 24.75 4 6 3

Paciorek and Alepra are really the only relievers that have shown any sense of reliability for Northwestern. D’Alise’s numbers are solid, but it’s hard to throw him in the same category as the other two given he’s only appeared in two games and thrown a total of 2.1 innings. Freshman Parker Hanks has also shown flashes of promise as he’s been dominant in three of four appearances. Barring a poor showing against Georgia Tech in a game that was already out of hand by the time he came in, Hanks has thrown 4.2 innings of scoreless baseball.

Things have been better for NU on the offensive side of things, but the Cats are still a long ways away from generating enough production at the plate to make up for their pitching woes. As it stands, Northwestern is scoring just 4.5 runs a game, and has just three hitters over .300 on the year.

Perhaps the friendly confines of Rocky and Berenice Miller Park will help NU turn things around. The Wildcats will play eight of their next 12 games at home.