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Baseball: Calarco shines, but ‘Cats swept in opening series at UAB

A few close defeats marked NU’s start of 2022.

Northwestern baseball struggled out of the gates to begin their 2022 season, as the Wildcats were swept by the UAB Blazers in a four-game series this past weekend in Birmingham, Alabama.

There weren’t too many bright spots for the ‘Cats, but the play of senior first baseman Anthony Calarco was impressive. Calarco finished the weekend batting .400 with an absurd 1.404 OPS in 15 at-bats. He tallied two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs over the four games.

Sophomore infielder/relief pitcher Jay Beshears also stood out. Over four games, Beshears hit .333 with a .733 OPS in nine at-bats, tallying one RBI. Beshears also pitched one inning of relief, striking out two batters without allowing a hit.

In their first game of the weekend, the Wildcats got off to a quick start due in large part to a six-run second inning. Through five innings, Northwestern led UAB 6-3, but the Blazers posted three runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie things up. NU posted one run half an inning later before UAB eventually walked it off with two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 8-7. Junior Coby Moe received the loss for the ‘Cats.

The second and third games of the series were played in the form of a doubleheader on Saturday, and both of them were tough losses for the ‘Cats, with NU dropping the game one of the doubleheader 4-1 and the second game 10-4. Northwestern’s only run of its 4-1 defeat came off of a Calarco solo shot in the top of the third.

In their 10-4 defeat, the Wildcats came out strong. First-year Bennett Markinson recorded the first hit and RBI of his college career on a double in the second inning, and NU jumped out to a 3-2 lead through five innings. However, the ‘Cats’ bullpen was soon met with a nightmare of a sixth inning, allowing seven runs to the Blazers, with none of UAB’s runs coming by way of the long ball.

To round out the series, Northwestern once again fell by six runs to the Blazers, this time by a score of 11-5. The ‘Cats struggled from the get-go in this final affair, quickly falling behind 4-0 and never getting back within three runs. First-year Alex Roessner has his first RBI of his career when he pinch hit in the top of the ninth, but it was far too little too late. Sophomore Kellen Pate received the loss for the Wildcats.

With their opening series now in the rearview, the ‘Cats will travel to Santa Clara, California to take on the Santa Clara Broncos this upcoming weekend in another four game series. Santa Clara will come into the series having taken one of three games against USC. First pitch is set for 8 p.m. CT on Friday night.