Northwestern wins home opener at newly renovated Rocky Miller Park
By Will Greer
Wrigley Field isn’t the only Chicagoland baseball stadium to debut significant upgrades this season.
Northwestern played its first home game of the 2015 campaign Tuesday afternoon at the new and improved Rocky Miller Park, defeating the Milwaukee Panthers 9-5.
And although, just like the 101 year-old home of the Chicago Cubs, renovations are not yet complete, Rocky Miller showed off for the first time Tuesday a new artificial turf field, new dugouts and new backstop netting.
The Cats (12-26) were led by first baseman Zach Jones, who drove in three runs on three hits, including a 2-run home run in Northwestern’s 5-run first inning.
Joe Schindler secured the win for Northwestern, allowing just four runs on four hits in five and two-thirds innings.
Northwestern starting pitcher Brandon Magallones went just one-third of an inning before being pulled for Schindler. Milwaukee (22-13) scored once off of Magallones in the first, boosting the Panthers to an early 1-0 lead.
Northwestern bounced back, sending all nine hitters to the plate in the bottom half of the inning, scoring five times. Jones and left fielder Jack Mitchell each smacked 2-run home runs in the inning, as the Cats chased Milwaukee starter Alex McIntosh after just one frame.
Milwaukee scraped together three runs over the next three innings and tied the game at five in the top of the fifth off of a long Sam Koenig home run.
The tie didn’t last for long, as Jones led off the fifth with a double and later scored on a Jack Mitchell sacrifice fly.
The ‘Cats added three more insurance runs, including a no-doubt solo home run off the bat of Joe Hoscheit in the seventh inning.
Pitchers Tommy Bordignon and Grant Peikert closed out Northwestern’s first home win of the season, pitching a combined three innings of shutout ball.
Northwestern will play 13 more home games this season before construction at Rocky Miller Park resumes this summer. When the project is completed next spring, the Cats’ home ballpark will boast a state-of-the-art clubhouse, new chair back seating, a concession stand, restrooms and a ticket office.
But for now, one thing for Northwestern baseball is certain: it’s good to be home.