Baseball: Northwestern’s offense fades in loss to Saint Louis

Ariel Yong and Ariel Yong

After Northwestern jumped out with four runs in the first three innings, the Wildcats could not muster up any more offense to end their losing streak.

The skid was extended to four games after Saint Louis University came back with three late runs to edge NU 6-4 on Thursday. The Cats have now dropped nine of their last 10 games, and against the Billikens NU could not find any holes in the Saint Louis defense.

“They brought in the leftie,” redshirt junior second baseman Zach Morton said. “We were hitting it well off him, but we were just hitting it at guys. (He) kept us off balance a little bit and then the closer did a good job to close the door.”

The Cats (17-35) managed seven total hits in the first three innings, but two new pitchers for the Billikens (39-15) limited the Cats to a mere two hits for the rest of the game.

Senior Francis Brooke pitched a complete game, but said this has been an unlucky year for the Cats.

“Even when we score runs, we give up more than we score,” Brooke said. “(It’s) just bad luck. “

NU scored three runs in the first inning and added one in the third, but could not push runners past second base for the rest of the game. However, they were aggressive in making contact with the ball, recording only four total team strikeouts. Both Morton and sophomore shortstop Kyle Ruchim had deep flyouts to left field in the fifth and sixth innings respectively. In the seventh inning, senior Chris Kontos hit a ball to deep left field but it was caught on the warning track by the left fielder.

“(Kontos) crushed that ball, but the wind just held it up and that would have been huge because that would’ve tied the game at the time,” senior first baseman Paul Snieder said. “There were a lot of other times where we hit the ball well, just right at people. Luck will come our way and we’ll get those to fall.”

However, the Cats were not only plagued with an offensive drought but were also lacking defensively. The Cats finished the game with four times as many errors as the Billikens, which led to five unearned runs for Saint Louis.

“I feel like we do that a lot,” Morton said. “We get a lot of hits but don’t necessarily score as many runs. Defensively we weren’t up to it today, so that definitely hurts you, especially (in) the close game.”

Brooke said these defensive slips are definitely not helpful when playing a team like the Billikens, who won their conference.

“Given a good-hitting team more than three outs a couple times in innings, it gives them more chance(s) to score,” Brooke said.

NU will continue its three-game series with the Billikens on Friday and Saturday. Snieder said the team must go in to the last two games with more intensity.

“I don’t wanna say reckless but (we have to) just go and try to mash the ball,” Snieder said. “(We have to) still play smart of course, but just have a lot more intensity and a sense of urgency.”

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