Make it 15 straight Big Ten losses for Northwestern.
The ‘Cats (8-38, 3-18 B1G) had another winless weekend, falling to the Michigan Wolverines three times in three days. Once again, Northwestern’s pitching staff was not up to the task and didn’t give the lineup much of a chance. As the season winds down, this theme has become all too consistent.
In game one on Friday, Michael Farinelli was on the hill for the ‘Cats. The righty went just three innings, giving up six earned runs on seven hits. He’s now 1-9 on the season with a 9.12 ERA. Michigan was dominant from beginning to end in the series opener, sprinting out to a 6-0 lead and never looking back. It went on to win the contest 12-5.
Northwestern’s offense was led by Stephen Hrustich who clobbered a homerun in the fourth to get the ‘Cats on the board, and he finished 2-4 with two RBIs. Outfielder Luke Tanner also chipped in with a dinger in the contest; however, it just wasn’t enough to match Michigan’s offensive explosion. Wolverine lead-off man Cody Jefferis was a thorn in the Wildcats’ side all series; he had a four-hit day and drove in three. Left-fielder Tito Flores also had four hits on a day in a Michigan lineup that exploded for 17.
To its credit, Northwestern played Michigan a little tighter in game two, this time coming up short by a score of 5-2. Freshman starter Same Garewal gave the ‘Cats their only quality start of the series. He allowed just two runs in 5.1 innings pitched and gave NU an opportunity to steal a victory. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Michigan starter Noah Rennard was just as good, eating up 6.2 innings and allowing just two runs as well.
The Wolverines held a 2-1 lead heading into the seventh when Kevin Ferrer, who was also responsible for Northwestern’s first run, delivered an RBI single to tie the game at two. Northwestern had life; however, it proceeded to squander it in the bottom of the 8th when Jack Dyke gave up a three-run bomb to Mitch Voit. The Wolverines then cruised to their second win of the weekend.
In the finale, Northwestern scored the first runs of the game in the first frame and led 2-0. But starter Luke Benneche had a rough afternoon, allowing seven runs on 10 hits in four innings pitched. Benneche fell to 0-8, and his ERA ballooned to 11.85. The junior has had a tough go of it this season.
The ‘Cats dropped this one 15-5, but Ferrer was a factor again, racking up three knocks, including a homer, and driving in two. The Michigan offense was led by Jefferis, who drove in a whopping six runners for the Wolverines — lifting his total on the series to nine.
Northwestern has had a difficult season, but it has an opportunity in the next week for some moral victories as the schedule comes to a close. There are only four games remaining, but one of them will be on Tuesday against Notre Dame (29-19, 14-13 ACC) at the iconic Wrigley Field.
The ‘Cats will close out their season next weekend at home with a three-game set against Iowa (37-12, 13-7 B1G).