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Baseball: ‘Cats reach .500 and take first B1G series 2-1

Northwestern earned its first series win over Indiana since 2006.

Photo by John Konstantaras

Last weekend, Northwestern baseball travelled to Bloomington, Ind., to take on the Hoosiers to open conference play.

Freshman Sean Sullivan took the mound for the first match of the weekend on Friday where he had another stellar six inning start. He struck out 11 Hoosier batters on three hits and zero earned runs.

Heading into the seventh inning, Northwestern held onto a 2-0 lead, but Indiana fired right back with a five-run inning, picking up a 5-2 advantage. The ‘Cats were able to pick up two more runs thanks to a few pitching errors by Indiana, but they ultimately fell in the first matchup, 5-4.

Saturday’s game was another great showing by the ‘Cats starting pitcher, this time Middlebury transfer Michael Farinelli, and Northwestern’s bats were on fire moving into the ninth inning. Sophomore Ethan O’Donnell, who leads the country with 17 doubles, had a two RBI double in the fourth inning to send the ‘Cats up three. Fellow sophomore Vincent Bianchina followed with a double of his own, putting Northwestern way out in front with a 7-0 lead.

Once Farinelli was done for the day, several relief pitchers came in and ultimately gave up six runs in the bottom of the ninth. But, despite the scare, Northwestern was able to eke out a 7-6 win to tie the series at one each.

Sunday’s rubber match was an offensive slugfest for the Wildcats, scoring 13 runs to Indiana’s six. Graduate transfer J.C. Santini had a great day for NU — he hit a two-out grand slam in the second inning to put the team up by four. He also had an inning-ending pick off of an Indiana infielder to get freshman pitcher Grant Comstock out of a jam in his first career start.

Senior Anthony Calarco and junior Stephen Hrustich each had a two RBI double, and O’Donnell crushed his sixth home run of the season to ultimately help Northwestern take the game and the series over the Hoosiers — something the team has not done since 2006.

After a shaky start to the season, the ‘Cats were back on the verge of reaching .500 after their trip to Bloomington as they took on the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames for a midweek matchup at home the following Tuesday. And boy, did they have another offensive showing.

On Tuesday, freshman Jacob Sharm took the mound for five innings, striking out three UIC batters and causing zero earned runs. Graduate student Ruben Fontes hit a home run straight over the neighboring Welsh-Ryan Arena in the second inning to give Northwestern a 3-1 lead.

Freshman Patrick Herrera followed with a RBI triple in the next inning, which gave way to a five-run lead by the sixth inning thanks to a Jay Beshears home run and a RBI double by junior Luke Tanner.

To cap off the game, senior Tommy D’Alise skied a ball home to deliver his fourth home run of the year, lifting the ‘Cats to a 13-2 lead.

Northwestern baseball has certainly found its stride moving into the thick of Big Ten play. Especially after coming into this season losing major role-players Shawn Goosenberg, Michael Trautwein and others, it has been a great sight for Northwestern fans to see younger players O’Donnell and Beshears step into bigger roles.

The ‘Cats are now an even 12-12 (2-1 B1G) and will host the Penn State Nittany Lions for three-game series this weekend at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park.