Covering the Bases: April 14

Kyle Ruchim smacked three homers this week for Northwestern baseball, and the team heads to Champaign on a three-game win streak. Photo credit: Meghan White, Daily Northwestern.

Northwestern got three hits and two doubles Saturday from Kyle Ruchim, but the Wildcats managed only one win against Michigan State. Photo credit: Meghan White, Daily Northwestern.

It was a rough road weekend for Wildcat Softball and Baseball. Minnesota swept the softball team, while Michigan State took two of three from NU baseball. Rain or shine, Michael Stern covers the bases.

First Base: Stevens Engineers Comeback

Cody Stevens had his best offensive game of the year in Friday’s 7-6 victory over Michigan State, tallying four hits including his first homer of the season. Stevens added three hits Saturday for an encore. The senior infielder helped start NU’s five-run eighth-inning rally which turned a 6-2 deficit into a 7-6 lead by beating out an infield single. Kyle Ruchim and Zach Jones delivered RBI hits to bring the ‘Cats within one, before Joe Hoescheit scored Ruchim and Jones with a single and gave the Wildcats the lead. Brandon Magallones battled through seven innings to earn his third victory of the year, allowing six earned runs but keeping NU in the game. Jake Stolley worked out of trouble in the final two innings, tallying his fourth save of the season.

Second Base: Consistency at the Top of the Order

Ruchim, Jones, and Scott Heelan are the only Wildcats hitting above .300 this season, and all three delivered last weekend in East Lansing. Heelan went two-for-five on both Friday and Sunday, tallying three RBI on the weekend. Jones had a hit in every game against Michigan State and scored three runs. The first baseman was a perfect 4-for-4 on Sunday. Ruchim went three-for-five with two doubles on Saturday, and scored four runs in the series.

Third Base: Bullpen Breakdown

Northwestern suffered a heartbreaking loss Saturday, falling 7-6 despite holding a 6-3 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. Starter Matt Portland was excellent, allowing only one earned run in six and two-thirds innings, but Reed Mason surrendered four earned runs in the ninth to take the loss. Mason has served as NU’s third starter at times this season, and his Saturday appearance left Sunday’s game in the hands of the bullpen. Joe Schindler go the start and lasted only three innings, allowing six earned runs. Coach Stevens called on Stolley next, but the junior could not replicate his Friday performance, allowing three earned runs in less than two innings. Infielder Grant Peikert got the ball in the eighth with NU already down 11-3, but Peikert could complete the inning, allowing three earned runs before he was replaced.

Home Plate: Tough Weekend for Softball

Wildcat softball was riding high, but a trip to the Twin Cities took the wind out of their sails. NU entered the week having won 17 of its past 19 games, but ranked Minnesota swept the ‘Cats away. The Gophers outscored Northwestern 31-7 over the three game set, scoring double-digit runs in each game and winning twice by the mercy rule. Neither Amy Letourneau nor Kristen Wood could slow down the Minnesota offense, which used an eight-run fourth and a nine-run third to collect easy wins on Saturday and Sunday. Olivia Duehr came on in relief to stop the bleeding on Saturday and Sunday. The senior did not record an out in game two but delivered a scoreless inning on Sunday. There were a couple offensive bright spots, as Andrea Filler drove in three on Friday and Letourneau smacked her seventh homer of the season on Saturday.

Up next: Baseball heads to Curtis Granderson Field to face UIC tomorrow before a weekend series at Iowa. Softball heads to South Bend and faces Notre Dame Wednesday before traveling to Lincoln this weekend to take on Nebraska.

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