Baseball: Duo of doubles leads Northwestern to win

The Wildcats let out one sigh of relief after Colby Everett’s deep line drive cleared the left fielder’s head in the first inning to give them a three-run lead. They let out another sigh of relief in the seventh after Jack Havey belted a bases-loaded pitch into the left-field gap to secure Northwestern’s 6-0 victory over Oakland on Wednesday.

After struggling to get the big hit for the majority of the season, the Cats (16-26) got two of them in their victory over the Golden Grizzlies (18-26). Despite recording just eight hits overall, four fewer than they recorded in their 5-4 loss to Illinois on Saturday, the Cats found open grass when it mattered most on Wednesday.

“The important thing is that we got hits when we needed them, when there were guys on base for us today, and that’s what made the difference,” Everett said.

Havey began the rally with a two-out double up the left-field line, after the first two batters struck out looking. “The first two did a good job of seeing a lot of pitches, so that always helps,” Havey said. “I got a good pitch and put a good swing on it, and it’s always good to get out (to a lead) in the first inning, especially the way we’ve been playing lately.”

Sophomore shortstop Kyle Ruchim followed with a free pass and sophomore designated hitter Jack Livingston walked on five pitches to load the bases. That’s when Everett, after taking the first two pitches for strikes from Chris Van Dyke, sprang into action with his hard hit into left field.

Much to Everett’s chagrin, the Cats’ bats stalled in the ensuing frames, recording just two hits over the next five innings.

“All year, we’ve had games where we’ve kind of got off to a good first inning and then slowed down,” Everett said. “There’s still a little bit of that today, and we really need to focus on being consistent offensively throughout the game.”

They came back to life in the bottom of the seventh inning as they loaded the bases on two singles and a hit by pitch. After fouling off Hayden Fox’s first offering over the first-base stands and unfurling a mighty swing at a pitch well out of the strike zone, Havey found himself way behind in the count.

Havey said. “‘Wait for your pitch and get lucky with one.'”

Havey’s blast into the left-field gap was more than enough to secure the victory for the Cats, particularly given the way their pitchers performed on the mound. Five NU hurlers combined to shut out Oakland on Wednesday as sophomore Nick Friar tossed three scoreless innings in his third start of the season. Dan Tyson, Ethan Bramschreiber

Jahns and Ruchim took care of the rest, surrendering just one hit over the final six innings.

Although most of the fans in attendance had already left by the time Ruchim struck out the final Golden Grizzlies batter with a pitch on the outside corner, they provided a vocal presence for most of the afternoon. The unusually large crowd for a midweek game was enough to make Stevens beam after the game.

“I was thrilled with the individuals that showed up today, ” coach Paul Stevens said. “They were energetic, enthusiastic, and that does carry over where you got a whole mess of people on their feet and yelling and screaming. Whether they know what they’re yelling and screaming about, it doesn’t matter.”

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