By: Tim Hackett
A difficult season for Northwestern baseball continued over the weekend, as the Wildcats allowed 33 total runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the No. 20 Michigan Wolverines. The Big Ten foes played a doubleheader on Friday after rain forced Saturday’s game to be rescheduled, before closing the series with a tight affair Sunday afternoon.
Northwestern started the first half of Friday’s doubleheader on the right foot when right fielder Matt Hopfner launched a solo home run, his first of the year, in the bottom of the first. From there, though, Michigan took over, scoring three runs in the second, three in the fourth, and two more in the fifth en route to a 10-4 rout. Harrison Wenson led the way for the Wolverines with 3 RBI, while leadoff man Jake Bivens crossed home plate three times. Michigan starter Oliver Jaskie picked up his sixth win of the year, allowing just four earned runs in 6.1 innings, while Northwestern’s Reed Mason was saddled with the loss after giving up five earned runs in just 3.0 innings.
The second half of the doubleheader didn’t go any better for the ‘Cats. After Bivens reached to lead off the game, Michigan left fielder Matt Ramsay belted a two-run homer to left field to give his team an early lead. And he was only getting started. Ramsay would collect two more two-run jacks as part of a five hit, four run, seven RBI day in a 12-3 Wolverine demolition. Bivens once again scored thrice, and designated hitter Carmen Benedetti added a trio of hits in support of a masterful start by Brett Adcock, who allowed just one hit while striking out eight in six innings of work. After a brief rain delay, Northwestern’s outing was salvaged late thanks to a two-run homer by JR Reimer in the eighth, one of just two Northwestern hits on the afternoon.
After the day off Saturday, Northwestern kept pace with Michigan for most of Sunday’s game, which featured 20 combined runs and 24 total hits. The ‘Cats took the lead on a Joe Hoscheit sacrifice fly in the first inning, before Michigan struck back with two runs in the second. In the bottom of the frame, Northwestern loaded the bases. Jack Dunn was hit by a pitch to tie the game, and then Zach Jones was walked to hand Northwestern a 3-2 lead.
Undeterred, Michigan would score four times in the third to take a 6-3 lead, anchored by a 2 RBI fielder’s choice rounder off the bat of Michael Brdar. But Northwestern produced five runs in the bottom of the third, four of which came off the bat of Dunn – the freshman’s grand slam was the first home run of his collegiate career and gave Northwestern an 8-6 lead.
But still, Michigan was unfazed. The next inning, Jake Bruder doubled in two runs and then scored, giving the Wolverines their lead back. Then in the eighth, Wenson also doubled in a run and scored, putting Michigan up three. The Wildcats scratched across a run in the bottom of the eighth, but it wasn’t enough, as the Wolverines left the newly-renovated Rocky and Berenice Miller Park with a 11-9 victory and a three-game sweep.
With the trio of losses, Northwestern falls to 7-21 on the season. The Wildcats will try to rebound when they host UIC on Tuesday. WNUR’s own Ari Ross and Matt McHugh will have the call, which can be heard live over the air on 89.3 FM in Evanston and Chicago or online at wnursports.com.