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Baseball: Northwestern sweeps Evansville, grows winning streak

Northwestern has looked like a much-improved team in their two home stands this year.

John Konstantaras

After starting their season an unfortunate 2-10, interim head coach Josh Reynolds and Northwestern’s baseball team have rattled off four straight wins.

In their home opener against St. Thomas last weekend, the Wildcats had their Friday and Saturday clashes canceled due to unplayable weather before sweeping a doubleheader on Sunday. NU experienced similar weather — good luck getting perfect conditions in Evanston in March — and parallel results this weekend.

Following a cancellation of Saturday’s matchup, the ‘Cats swept the Evansville Aces in a morning-afternoon doubleheader on Sunday. The wins were impressive considering Evansville is a burgeoning squad coming off of a four-game win streak that included sweeping No. 18 Tulane in New Orleans.

In game one, first-year Sean Sullivan turned in yet another fine outing. The two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week went five innings, giving up seven hits and three runs while striking out five and walking one on 96 pitches; “Sully,” as he’s called, has not surrendered more than three runs in each of his five starts this year.

Sullivan’s strong start was backed by a potent Northwestern offense. First baseman Anthony Calarco launched a home run into center field in the first inning, while a throwing error by Evansville pitcher Shane Gray allowed NU to add three runs in the second. The Wildcats tacked on two more runs via a two-run double from Vince Bianchina; the second baseman totaled three RBIs in the opener, including a sixth-inning sacrifice fly. Reynolds’ first-years also played a pivotal role: Alex Calarco — Anthony’s younger brother — made his season debut and notched three hits and an RBI, while Bennett Markinson drove in two on a double to help Northwestern prevail 10-4.

Michael Farinelli took the bump at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park for game two. The grad transfer was stellar, throwing an economical 77 pitches in six innings in which the Aces had just one hit: a leadoff home run from Mark Shallenberger. Despite an early hole, the Wildcats’ offense remained fierce behind a five-run third inning that saw Anthony Calarco, Jay Beshears, Ruben Fontes, Bianchina and Andrew Pinkston tally RBIs. NU posted three more in the fourth-through-seventh innings, while Mike Doherty and Coby Moe combined to pitch three perfect frames in relief. Northwestern won 8-1 in another dominant showing.

The ’Cats looked dead in the water just two weeks ago, but their recent home stands have infused much-needed life. With their next game against No. 9 Notre Dame postponed, Northwestern will head down to Indianapolis, where games against SIU-Carbondale and Butler await.