Baseball: Wildcats drop 2 of 3 to Hoosiers despite Saturday rout

Alex Putterman, Reporter

In a sense, winning one game was more satisfying for Northwestern than losing two was upsetting.

NU (22-23, 9-15 Big Ten) dropped two of three against No. 16 Indiana (38-11, 15-6) but kept pace with the first-place Hoosiers, outscoring them 15-13 thanks to a 12-1 rout Saturday.

The win produced NU’s largest margin of victory since March 16 against Bucknell and came against the best team the Wildcats have faced this season.

Saturday’s game matched inconsistent Cats sophomore Brandon Magallones against Hoosiers sophomore Kyle Hart, who entered the weekend with the fourth-best ERA in the conference. But, as the results reinforced, baseball is played on a field, not on a stat sheet.

“It just seemed like everything we did went right,” coach Paul Stevens said. “That was one of those days that we got clutch hits when we needed them. We got plays when we needed them. We got pitches when we needed them.”

Magallones pitched all nine innings, yielding 2 hits, no walks and just 1 run in one of his best starts of the season. Hart did not make it out of the second inning, letting on seven base runners and conceding 6 runs in his worst outing of the season.

“I thought I was throwing the ball real well,” Magallones said. “I was able to spot my fastball better than I had been all year, so I was pretty happy with that.”

The pitcher called his outing the best he has thrown this season. He was named the co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for his performance.

“Mags has been a great pitcher for a long time,” Stevens said. “He’s been up and down with some things, but what I saw out of him (Saturday) is nothing that I don’t fully expect every time he goes out. It was really good to see him have that kind of a day because that is definitely a confidence builder.”

The Cats scored 12 total runs Saturday, their best offensive output in a game since April 7. Redshirt senior Trevor Stevens scored 4 runs, and senior Jack Havey drove in 6.

“Everybody was feeling good that day,” Trevor Stevens said. “We were seeing the ball really well. It was one of those days. It’s baseball. You have your ups and downs, and (Saturday) everything was just clicking.”

But bookending the successful middle game of the series were two losses.

On Friday, Luke Farrell submitted one of his worst outings of Big Ten play. After striking out six batters in three perfect innings, the senior escaped a jam in the fourth and struggled again in the fifth and sixth. He exited without recording an out in the sixth and was eventually charged with 3 earned runs in five innings. The Cats could manage only 1 run and fell 3-1.

Sunday’s game was less tight, as NU fell behind 6-0 on its way to a 9-2 defeat. The Cats’ runs came in the sixth inning, when they sent eight men to the plate and stranded the bases loaded after scoring a pair. Five of the team’s 10 total hits came in that inning, as the offense could muster little else the rest of the way.

NU was mathematically eliminated from contention for the Big Ten playoffs after Friday’s loss, but Trevor Stevens insisted that was not on the team’s mind.

“Every game is the same for us,” he said. “Even though we know where we stood, we don’t really pay attention to it. It doesn’t affect our game, and we don’t let it affect our game.”