There’s no easy way to put it: The beginning of Northwestern’s baseball season hasn’t been pretty. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, a weekend trip to Hammond, Louisiana, couldn’t cure their ills, as NU fell in three straight games to the Southeastern Louisiana Lions.
Northwestern slid to 1-9 overall this year, while SLU moved to 8-4 with the three-game sweep at Pat Kenelly Diamond.
The first game of the series was out of reach for the Wildcats early, as NU senior starting pitcher Brandon Magallones had an uncharacteristically rough outing, allowing five runs over three innings. Freshman pitcher Justin Yoss was also unable to contain the Lion attack, surrendering five runs over four innings in relief of Magallones. SLU led 9-0 through the first four innings, and withstood a four-run top of the fifth by Northwestern to coast to a 10-5 win.
Due to inclement weather looming in the area on Sunday, the teams elected to cram the final two games of the series into a Saturday doubleheader. Both games were close, and featured Northwestern blowing three run leads to Southeastern Louisiana. In Game 1, NU hopped out to a 3-0 lead after three and a half innings with help from senior center fielder Kyle Ruchim, who logged two hits early. The Lions chipped away and grabbed a 4-3 lead after six innings. Ruchim then struck again, tying the score with an RBI double, his third hit of the game, in the NU half of the seventh. But sophomore relief pitcher Joe Schindler surrendered two runs to SLU in its half of the eighth and the ‘Cats couldn’t retaliate, falling 6-4.
In Game 2, the ‘Cats found themselves up 3-0 after just one half inning of play, thanks to three SLU errors and an RBI single from sophomore outfielder Joe Hoscheit. Junior starting pitcher Matt Portland performed admirably, preserving the lead for six innings, striking out six and allowing just two runs. But the Wildcats couldn’t scratch across any insurance runs after the first inning, and it came back to bite them. It looked like they would get off scot-free after junior relief pitcher Jake Stolley struck out the first two Lions in the bottom half of the ninth, but a hit-by-pitch, double, and two-run single gave SLU the sweep-clinching, walk-off victory.
After yet another rough weekend, the ‘Cats will get another crack at proving that God hath not forsaken them at the Snowbird Classic in Punta Gorda, Florida, starting on Friday. NU will face the Ball State Cardinals on Friday, the Dartmouth um … Kegs on Saturday and the Georgetown Hoyas in a doubleheader on Sunday.