Owens, Goebbert have historic series

Matt Forman

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It was a record-breaking weekend for the two Jakes in Northwestern’s lineup.

Jake Owens, the Wildcats’ leadoff hitter, and Jake Goebbert, who bats third in the lineup, etched their names in NU’s record book.

In the eighth inning of Sunday’s 14-7 win against Ohio State, Owens smacked a double to right center field, one-hopping the 375-foot sign on a 1-2 fastball. With the gapper, he surpassed current Houston Astros second baseman Mark Loretta with 240 hits in his career, placing him second in the school’s history.

“It’s great to be considered with those guys,” Owens said. “They were great ballplayers when they were here, and they went on to do great things in professional baseball. Just to be mentioned with people who gave so much to this program is an honor.”

Owens has progessively improved as a Cat, increasing his hit totals in each of the past three seasons. Last year, the senior broke the school’s single-season record with 85 hits. In the 2008 campaign, he has collected 49 base-knocks in 35 games.

“While I don’t pay much attention to records, I do pay attention to production,” coach Paul Stevens said. “And Mr. Owens has been a very productive player for us.”

Production comes hand in hand with consistency, Stevens said. And Owens has been nothing but Mr. Consistency, playing in nearly 180 consecutive games in his NU career.

Growing up in Stevens Point, Wis., one of Owens’ boyhood idols was Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who started 253 consecutive games during his 17-year career.

“I think that Jake is an iron horse type of guy,” Stevens said. “Bumps, bruises – it doesn’t matter. He’s going out there to play.”

If Owens hopes to end his career ranked No. 1 in total hits, he will have to register 20 over the team’s final 14 regular season games.

While Owens’ career is winding down, Goebbert’s is not even half over. This weekend, the sophomore first baseman hit his 20th double of the season, moving within one of the school’s single-season record.

“It’s a true honor because I know there have been a lot of great players that have gone through here,” Goebbert said. “I’ve worked really hard to get to this position, and I hope that I do the program justice in what I’ve done.”

Goebbert has tallied 34 doubles in fewer than two seasons as a Cat and sits 22 away from the school’s career mark. A season ago, he was voted Freshman of the Year by his teammates for his ability to make things go, earning the nickname “Go-Go.”

“Go-Go is just that, he’s Mr. Go-Go,” Stevens said. “He finds a way to make things go-go and go-go well.”

Goebbert leads the Big Ten in doubles. But it’s his ability to work hard at controlling everything that comes his way that impresses Stevens.

“Mr. Goebbert is like American health care,” Stevens said. “He doesn’t wait to get sick to stay healthy.”

If NU wants to make the Big Ten tournament, it will need more solid efforts from its Jakes, both of whom are putting team success first.

“Honestly, baseball is the most individual team sport that there is,” Goebbert said. “It’s cool and a lot of fun to break records, but I would much rather win and make the tournament as a team and the individual stats will come.”