Both Wildcat baseball and softball have benefited from strong play out of the leadoff spot. Michael Stern has the details in this week’s Covering the Bases.
On-Deck Circle: Home, Sweet Home
Northwestern baseball played its first 37 games of the season on the road as Rocky Miller Park underwent serious renovations. The diamond is finally ready, and the ‘Cats are certainly ready for some home cooking. NU starts an 11-game homestand this afternoon against Milwaukee, and the stretch also features series against Ohio State, Nebraska, and Kansas.
First Base: Raving about Ruchim
Kyle Ruchim did all this week for Northwestern baseball. The senior centerfielder tallied three multi-hit games, two outfield assists to home plate (one of which sealed a 4-3 win at UIC), and one homer Sunday against Iowa. Ruchim leads Northwestern with a .352 batting average, 24 runs scored, and 6 homers. His on-base plus slugging percentage is an astounding 1,000. The Cardinals selected Ruchim in the 39th round of last year’s MLB draft, and he’s certainly helped his stock in 2015.
Second Base: Starting Pitching Improving
Baseball got a couple excellent starts this weekend at 14th-ranked Iowa. Brandon Magallones threw eight-plus innings, allowing three earned runs. Northwestern lead the Hawkeyes 3-1 after eight-and-a-half innings, but Magallones came back out for the ninth and allowed the tying run to reach base. Neither closer Jake Stolley nor reliever Joe Schindler was able to stem the bleeding and Iowa walked off 4-3. In Saturday’s second game, Reed Mason pitched 7.2 innings, allowing only one run, and the Wildcats were able to hold onto the lead for him. Infielder Grant Peikert relieved Mason and got the final five outs for his first collegiate save. In Saturday’s first game, Matt Portland got hit hard, allowing seven earned runs in four innings. Portland had been pitching well as of late for the Wildcats, allowing one earned run in starts against Michigan State and Illinois.
Third Base: Big Innings Doom Softball
Wildcat softball had a tough first couple of games in Lincoln against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers got after Kristen Wood in the series’ opening game, riding a seven-run fifth inning to a 10-2 run rule victory. Olivia Duehr got the start on the mound Saturday and pitched well outside of one inning. Nebraska used that one inning, a nine-run fourth, to beat NU 9-5. Wood didn’t have her best stuff on Sunday, but she kept the Huskers from putting together a big inning. Despite surrendering eight walks and six hits, Wood held Nebraska to three runs and picked up her 10th win of the season.
Home Plate: Rabin Setting the Table
Leadoff hitter Sabrina Rabin had a weekend to remember in Lincoln. The freshman outfielder went 10-for-13 in four games this week, with five runs scored and five stolen bases, and earned Big Ten freshman and player of the week as a result. While Rabin got on all weekend, Andrea DiPrima and Andrea Filler delivered clutch run-scoring hits on Sunday. Northwestern used hits from the two Andreas to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead in Sunday’s seventh inning. DiPrima and Filler each homered in Lincoln, both players now have nine homers on the season. Oh, and Filler ended Sunday’s game with a diving snag of a line drive which ended up number three on the SportsCenter top 10.