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Baseball: NU sweeps San Jose State, earns first series win of 2019

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The Wildcats are playing their best baseball of the season heading into the meat of Big Ten play.

@NUCatsBaseball

Northwestern (10-13, 1-2) put together its best series of 2019 this past weekend, sweeping San Jose State (14-14) thanks to two dominant shutout pitching performances and a dramatic come-from-behind walk-off victory.

Sophomore left-hander Quinn Lavelle led the way for the Wildcats in Game 1, tossing a two-hit complete game shutout to help the ‘Cats squeak out a narrow 1-0 victory. Both of SJSU’s hits were infield hits, and Lavelle’s dominant outing brought his ERA to 3.66 on the season. With another strong performance on the mound, Lavelle has emerged as Northwestern’s go-to Friday series starter and the most reliable starting arm on the NU roster.

Here’s what Coach Allen had to say after the sophomore’s second-career complete game shutout:

The Wildcats came from behind to win Game 2, erasing a three-run deficit in the 6th inning before stealing the contest thanks to a 9th inning “walk-off walk” — Northwestern’s first walk-off victory of 2019.

The comeback victory was led by upperclassmen Jack Dunn and Alex Erro, who both went 4-for-5 at the plate to help NU secure its third-straight win. Dunn scored three runs in the game and delivered a clutch two-out RBI single in the 6th to tie the game.

Three innings later, with the bases loaded and power-hitting Willie Bourbon at the plate, Northwestern walked it off in style.

Although Hank Christie didn’t have his best stuff on Saturday (5.2 IP/5 ER/7 H/2 BB/6 K), the Northwestern bullpen came up huge in the walk off victory. Anthony Alepra, Sam Lawrence and Nick Paciorek combined to close out the game for NU with 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball. Paciorek and Alepra now both have sub-3 ERA’s at 2.45 and 2.57 respectively.

After a solid mid-week start against Chicago State, freshman Mike Doherty got the nod on Sunday and delivered another strong performance, throwing 5.0 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits. The Northwestern bullpen shut the Spartans down for the rest of the game, with Jack Pagliarini, Ryan Bader and Josh Levy all getting in on the action.

Willie Bourbon launched a 2-run shot in the 7th inning and drove in 3 RBIs on the day to lead the way for the Wildcats at the plate on Sunday. The homer was Bourbon’s 3rd of the year.

Three up

1. Defense

The Wildcats put together an entire highlight reel of fielding gems this weekend. Here’s a look at some of them.

2. Stealing Bases

Michael Trautwein stole a base on Friday to bring NU’s season total to 34 stolen bases in 23 games. Nine different NU players have stolen a base this year and 8 of those 9 have multiple steals on the season.

3. Rocky Miller Park

Northwestern has played just seven home games this year, but the team boasts a 5-2 record in Evanston compared to a 3-9 record in away games and a 2-2 mark in neutral site contests. Sure, Northwestern has gone up against easier opponents at home while playing ACC/SEC opponents on the road, but the disparity in home/away records is definitely worth noting.

The Wildcats have back-to-back crosstown contests against Chicago State and UIC on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Columbus this weekend for their second conference series of the year against Ohio State.