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Willie Bourbon had a four-hit, four-RBI, four-run game against Pacific. The freshman should get more playing time this weekend in Florida. Photo credit: nusports.com

BY: Henry DaMour

Northwestern baseball takes a 4-4 record into a weekend series starting Friday in Port Charlotte, Florida. They will look to do so without Opening Day starting pitcher Joe Schindler and second baseman Antonio Freschet, who were suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Coach Spencer Allen has not gone into details other than stating that the duo will not be traveling to Port Charlotte, Florida after missing last weekend’s series against Pacific.

There has been no noticeable difference in Northwestern’s offensive production as a whole in Freschet’s absence, but the senior’s .364/.364/.455 slash line through four games was a significant hole to replace, and freshman second baseman Willie Bourbon (4-5, 4 RBI, 4R in a 14-5 drubbing of Pacific) has made a case for a starting spot in Freschet’s absence.

Schindler was solid on Opening Day, scattering three hits over five shutout innings and striking out six, but sophomore Tommy Bordignon has thrown well in two extended appearances out of the bullpen. Bordignon has given up no runs on just one hit and has surrendered just one walk through his first two appearances.

The tournament slate will pit Coach Allen’s squad against four teams: Saint Leo of D-II fame on Friday, Boston College and Butler on Saturday, and the MVC’s own Illinois State on Sunday morning. Saint Leo comes into the tournament with 15 games already under its belt, the last two of which were commanding 11-6 and 14-0 victories over Albany State (Ga.). They also boast a 7-0 record on their home field, just two hours from Port Charlotte.

The most formidable opponent this weekend, however, might be Boston College. The Eagles are 7-0 (with a small caveat that will be discussed shortly) on the year, sweeping a season-opening four game series from Northern Illinois. After the Huskies they played in last weekend’s Snowbird Classic, beating Chicago State, Indiana State, and Villanova. Interestingly enough, their most recent contest was actually a 6-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox in an MLB Spring Training game on Monday. Although Mookie Betts put a three-run shot over the replica Green Monster in left field of JetBlue Park in Fort Myers to send the Eagles to their first loss of the season, B.C. remains perfect against other college teams.

Sophomore Dan Kubiuk (also the third-string QB for Northwestern) will get his first collegiate start on Friday after making three previous appearances out of the bullpen. He’ll look to continue his success (opponents are hitting .238 against Kubiuk) against the Lions of Saint Leo. Lefty Reed Mason will get a chance to lower his 2.08 ERA against Boston College Saturday morning, and starters have not yet been announced for the Wildcats’ last two games of the weekend.

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