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Baseball: ‘Cats get a feel-good victory, lose two in their final series of the year vs. Iowa

Presented with a tough matchup, Northwestern did whatever it could to be competitive.

Coming off a thrilling victory against Notre Dame at Wrigley Field, Northwestern (10-40, 4-20 B1G) made it to the ten-win mark this weekend in its final series of the season at home against Iowa (39-13, 15-8 B1G). The Hawkeyes took two-of-three from the ‘Cats, but it wasn’t a sweep. In a season like this one, Wildcat fans will take it.

In game one, though, the ‘Cats weren’t competitive, falling 15-3. Michael Farinelli got the start and struggled mightily, allowing seven earned runs on six hits with four walks. It was 15-0 before Northwestern even got on the board. The Hawkeyes benefited from offensive contributions throughout the lineup, with nine different players driving in runs. Bennett Markinson had an RBI hit for the ‘Cats in garbage time, but its impact was minimal. The weekend opener was a trouncing in favor of Iowa.

The ‘Cats claimed their sole win in the second game of the series on Friday. Sam Garewal was on the mound for the 6-4 victory, pitching five innings of two-run ball and allowing four hits.

The Hawkeyes got on the board first in the opening inning of the contest, but Northwestern tied it at one in the bottom of the first. NU took the lead in the second on a Griffin Arnone homer. The game continued to stay tight as Iowa scored in the top of the third inning to even the score, but fell behind the following inning off an Alex Calarco RBI.

The score stayed there for a few innings until Iowa made it a tie ballgame again in the sixth. Northwestern took its biggest lead of the day in the bottom half, however, when shortstop Owen McElfatrick launched a massive two-run homer to left field. The ‘Cats didn’t look back from there, adding another run in the eighth on a Calarco solo shot and locking down the win.

Northwestern reverted back to how it started the series on Saturday. This time, it was blanked 10-0 in a game where it could never get anything going offensively against Iowa ace Brody Brecht. Brecht was a tall task for the ‘Cats in their season finale, and it looked it. Northwestern only managed two hits in the entire game.

David Utagawa started for Northwestern and didn’t allow a ton of damage. He went 5.2 innings and only gave up three runs on five hits. The junior looked good this week, after impressing in the late innings against Notre Dame.

Most of Iowa’s runs came in the eighth inning, hanging seven runs on Northwestern’s bullpen to put a crooked number on the board. Coby Moe, Ryan Keenan and Jack Sauser all struggled for the ‘Cats.

With that, the 2023 season has come to a close for Northwestern. It was a difficult one, but things looked comparably better in the final week. Moral victories aren’t as good as real victories, but this team will take what it can.