‘Cats look to carry momentum against tough in-state foe

In a matchup of the only two Illinois private schools with Division I baseball programs, Northwestern will hope to carry momentum from a solid weekend at Nebraska when it welcomes in the Bradley Braves on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.

Although the ‘Cats won just one of three games over the weekend, the team played some of its best baseball all season. NU (8-24, 2-7 B1G) lost two one-run games to open up the series before thrashing the Cornhuskers, 11-3, in game three on Sunday afternoon.

“We played solid baseball for three games,” said freshman Willie Bourbon, who homered and drove in two runs in Sunday’s win. “We only took one of the series, but it was a good all-around weekend.”

The heart of the order generated the bulk of Northwestern’s production in Lincoln, as Matt Hopfner, Joe Hoscheit and Connor Lind combined to hit .550 with 22 hits, 12 RBIs and three long balls over the weekend.

Northwestern also benefited from solid pitching performances in Lincoln, including three innings of shutout baseball in Sunday’s win from senior Jake Stolley.

The southpaw will start on the mound for Northwestern again Wednesday afternoon. After never starting a game in his first three collegiate seasons, the lefty is holding batters to just a .244 average and has only allowed three extra-base hits through four starts this year.

Bradley (15-10, 1-1 MVC) is coming off a strong weekend of its own. The Braves split a pair with No. 16 Missouri State and have now won 11 of their last 15 games.

Head coach Elvis Dominguez will hand the ball to freshman lefty Ben Olson, who will be starting his seventh game of the year. Olson is 1-2 with a 5.33 ERA.

Bradley, which boasts a lineup that ranks eighth nationally in doubles per game with 2.65, is led by Tyler Leffler and Paul Solka. Solka is hitting .351 with a team-best 22 RBIs, while Leffler is hitting .340 and is the national leader with .65 doubles per game.

WNUR’s own Will Greer and Josh Wasserman will have the call from Rocky and Berenice Miller Park on Wednesday afternoon. WNUR’s live coverage starts at 2:45 pm and can be heard live over the airwaves of 89.3 FM in the Evanston and Chicago area or online at wnursports.com.

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