Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Bats Come Alive In Weekend Sweep (Baseball)

By Jake SimpsonThe Daily Northwestern

“We’ve just got to find some consistency.”

So said junior Jake Owens after a nine-day, eight-game stretch in Florida that saw both the best and worst of the Wildcats.

Northwestern (6-11) went 4-4 on the trip but finished on a high note, sweeping their last weekend of play and riding a three-game winning streak into this weekend’s Big Ten action.

Coach Paul Stevens said his team’s attitude led to the resurgence.

“Obviously I liked the attitude of the guys this week,” he said. “They could’ve cashed it in on some occasions, but they didn’t.”

The Cats played their best ball over the weekend, when they swept three contests with Ivy League foes Dartmouth and Harvard.

On Saturday, the Cats played their first doubleheader of the year, a preview of the twinbills they will play nearly every weekend this spring. Senior hurler Dan Schwartz took the hill in the opener against Dartmouth and shut down the Big Green, allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings to lead the Cats to a 12-2 romp. The Cats’ ace improved to 2-0 on the year.

Offensively, Owens (3-4, 3 RBIs) paced a dominant hitting performance from a lineup that, according to Stevens, is “in the zone.”

“They’re seeing the baseball well and finding holes,” Stevens said. “Right now I just stay away from them and hope they keep doing what they’re doing.”

Senior catcher Geoff Dietz’s two-run homer in the sixth gave the Cats a 5-1 lead, and NU sealed the victory with a seven-run outburst in the ninth.

In the second game, the Cats faced Harvard and appeared to be headed for another easy victory. Owens’ two-run single highlighted a big second inning for the Cats, who batted around to take a 5-0 lead. Senior pitcher Ryan Myers stifled Harvard’s hitters, and NU held a 7-2 lead through seven innings.

Owens, who finished the day hitting 7 for 8 with six RBIs, credited leadoff hitter Aaron Newman for getting on base and sparking big innings.

“When Aaron gets on ahead of me, he’s always a threat to steal, which makes it tough for the pitchers,” Owens said. “The rest of us then see a lot of strikes.”

The Cats were just six outs away from a convincing sweep of the doubleheader and their first winning streak this season. The Crimson, however, staged a frantic comeback, scoring four runs in the eighth and three in the ninth to take a 9-7 lead.

Undaunted, the Cats rallied, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth without making an out. Keyed by a two-run double from Dietz, NU picked up the 10-9 win when second baseman Tommy Finn was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

The win marked NU’s first back-to-back victories of the season.

“There was some adversity in that game, but they didn’t let it cripple them,” Stevens added. “They found a way to battle back.”

The team rode the momentum from Saturday’s wins into Sunday’s rematch with Dartmouth, battering the Big Green’s pitching on its way to an 11-4 victory. Freshman Jake Goebbert led the offensive explosion, going 4-4 with two RBIs.

“Once we got those two games, we started rolling,” Owens said.

NU finished the weekend 3-0, ending the trip with a .500 winning percentage and high hopes for Big Ten play.

“These guys understand they can go out on any given day and beat anybody,” Stevens said.

The team’s success came on the heels of a six-game losing streak, which included the first three games of the trip. Schwartz said the ebbs and flows of NU’s spring break are just part of the game.

“Sometimes you just don’t play well,” he said. “But we worked hard in practice and really finished the trip strong.”

Reach Jake Simpson at [email protected].

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Bats Come Alive In Weekend Sweep (Baseball)