clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Baseball: Northwestern falls just short of a ninth-inning comeback

Despite a four-game losing streak, at least the ninth inning showed that the ‘Cats’ are always in the game.

@NUCatsBaseball on Twitter

With a swing of his bat, Griffin Arnone made a much-needed win seem tangible in the ninth inning, but the late-night theatrics weren’t enough to give the ‘Cats their first win since last Tuesday.

Northwestern (8-35, 3-15 B1G) fell 3-2 to Milwaukee (22-14, 10-13 Horizon), losing its fourth in a row after a weekend sweep by Indiana. The Wildcats had a 10-run shutout against the Panthers when they faced off earlier in the season. This time around, the offense lagged behind, only garnering five hits.

The ‘Cats had the potential to post a run their first time up to bat. Following back-to-back strikeouts, Stephen Hrusitch walked. The captain then made his way to third off two wild pitches but never made it to home plate.

Owen McElfatrick and Tony Livermore both got on base to begin the third inning. McElfatrick reached on an error, the first of four for the Panthers, and Livermore recorded the first hit of the night for either team. NU was able to load the bases off a groundout from Hrustich, which recorded McElfatrick out, and a walk from Alex Calarco. A wild pitch scored Livermore to give the Wildcats the first run of the game.

Milwaukee tied the game in the fifth inning on an unearned run. First-year Drew Dickson recorded two outs after surrendering a single and stolen base. A flyout to centerfield would have brought Northwestern up to the plate, but confusion between Arnone and Marty Kaplan caused a dropped ball that instead brought in a run.

The Panthers took a one-run lead their next time up, off a two-out double followed by a single. An inside-the-park home run in the eighth made it a 3-1 lead and proved to be the difference.

On their last chance, the Wildcats didn’t go down without a fight. Nate DeYoung, who had played at first base and recorded a hit before taking the mound in the ninth for Milwaukee, started his outing by letting up an Arnone home run to left field.

Another error for Milwaukee allowed Kevin Ferrer to reach first. DeYoung recorded his first out against Kaplan, but the impressive at-bat showed the ‘Cats’ fight and made it seem that the game was still within reach. It was, but an unfortunate mishap on the base path stood in the way of a comeback. Andrew Pinkston, pinch-running for Ferrer, advanced to third on a throwing error but was determined out on appeal, having completely missed second base. McElfatrick stuck out with the bases cleared to end the dramatics.

Calarco went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double. Livermore, Arnone and Kaplan were the only other Wildcats to notch hits. Despite the slow offense, the pitching staff offered some optimism.

Seven different NU pitchers took the mound— Matt McClure, Ethan Sund, Ryan Keenan, Dickson, Jack Sauser, Reed Smith and Nolan Morr. McClure pitched two scoreless innings without any baserunners. Sund, Keenan and Smith all pitched a scoreless inning, and only Sund surrendered a hit.

Keenan had a dominant showing, striking out the side in his fourth-inning appearance.

Sund also displayed strikeout power when working out of a jam in the third inning. After giving up a lead-off double, the 6-foot-4 graduate student struck out and then walked the next two batters. He followed that pattern once again to load the bases but got out of the inning on his third K.

Northwestern heads to Ann Arbor this weekend for a three-game set against Michigan, hoping for its first Big Ten win since April 9.