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Baseball: After rainout Tuesday, Cats looks to matchup with Wolverines

Jonah L. Rosenblum

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Pitching coach Tim Stoddard wasn’t worried about coach Pat Fitzgerald as the 34-year-old lefty warmed up to throw the first pitch at Wrigley Field on Tuesday at Trienens Hall.

Stoddard was more concerned with keeping his pitching staff up to speed after morning rains canceled Northwestern’s match against Illinois-Chicago.

After surrendering 10 runs in the first two innings of Friday night’s game against Indiana, NU pitchers gave up just six earned runs in the last 25 innings.

“We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Stoddard said. “Our guys have been throwing the ball well. Throwing a lot of strikes. Our walks have been down all year, and we’ve been attacking hitters. Right now, we’re in a pretty good position.”

The bullpen has been particularly strong, posting a 3.33 ERA in NU’s last five games.

The rain may not have been heavy Tuesday, but it was enough to throw the Wildcats for a loop. Stoddard and coach Paul Stevens were counting on giving some under-utilized pitchers a chance to make their mark against UIC.

“It definitely affects some of the guys we were going to throw,” Stevens said. “You’re not getting these guys any work. That’s always been an issue for us.”

Stoddard said the Cats were probably going to use four or five pitchers against UIC, but they will no longer have that chance.

“What we will do is have everybody throw to a couple of batters,” he said. “Our starters can throw their bullpens as normal, but the rest of our guys will just throw a live bullpen to a couple of hitters.”

This solution also gives NU’s hitters a chance to face live pitching.

“They can see live pitching and our guys can see live hitting,” Stoddard said. “It’s not the ideal scenario, but it’s what you have to do.”

FIRST PLACE ON THE LINE

After losing two of three to Indiana this past weekend, the Cats will look to bounce back against Michigan.

Unearned runs made up the margin in both losses to the Hoosiers, and after making five errors in three games the Cats will be looking to cut down on mistakes against Michigan.

“We’re going to bounce back,” centerfielder Arby Fields said. “We’re all ready to go. We’re not down at all. We know what we have to do. We have to minimize mistakes.”

NU fell behind early to Indiana in both losses, so this weekend the Cats will also be looking to get off to fast starts.

“We came out a little slow,” Fields said. “In previous wins, we were coming out and scoring runs, but in these past two losses, we’ve been waiting around and then trying to make a comeback instead of just getting the job done early. That’s what we’re going to focus on.”

The weekend series will be a premiere match up as the Cats and Wolverines are tied for first place in the Big Ten. NU faces a stiff challenge playing at Ray Fisher Stadium, where Michigan has a 13-4 record.

“They’ve been ready from the time we walked out of spring training,” Stevens said. “This team has had a tremendous amount of pressure on them all year. This weekend isn’t different than any other weekend for them. Just one at-bat, one inning, one game at a time.”

jonahrosenblum2012@u.northwestern.edu

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