Baseball: Wildcats end season pridefully, taking two of three from Buckeyes


Daily file photo by Brian Lee

Reed Mason throws a pitch against Illinois. The sophomore capped his second campaign with seven solid innings Friday against Ohio State, allowing just two runs to help Northwestern take two of three games from the Buckeyes.

Alex Putterman, Sports Editor

Despite having nothing left to play for in the standings, the Wildcats made themselves proud this weekend.

Northwestern (19-33, 7-16 Big Ten) took two of three games at Ohio State (30-26, 10-14) to finish the season in ninth place in the conference, one spot short of Big Ten Tournament qualification.

“For (the players) to go in there and show Ohio State the pride they had and who they were, there aren’t any words for it,” coach Paul Stevens said. “I was so proud of the way they represented our University. I was speechless. It was really something to see the pride these guys had and how it came out.”

Though the Cats won’t advance to postseason play, they can take pride in a marked improvement during the second half of the season, despite a rash of injuries. NU ended the year winning six of its final eight games, including the series win over Ohio State.

The Cats topped the Buckeyes on Thursday behind a dominant performance on the hill from junior Brandon Magallones. Magallones, who has struggled in his last few starts, hurled eight innings and didn’t allow an earned run until a leadoff double in the ninth came around to score after he’d been removed.

Stevens said he’ll be “shocked” if the right-hander isn’t named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for his performance.

“That was by far my best performance of the year,” said Magallones, who finished the season with a 5.33 ERA. “That’s the type of performance I was expecting of me this year. It didn’t happen, but to go out on that note is a good feeling.”

NU’s offense came courtesy of freshman Matt Hopfner and sophomore Jack Mitchell, who had two hits and two RBIs apiece on the way to a 6-3 Cats victory.

Starting pitching was again the story Friday, as Reed Mason fired seven innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out seven to cap a solid sophomore season.

Junior second baseman Scott Heelan went three-for-four in the game with four RBIs, and freshman Joe Hoscheit closed out the game for his second save in as many days, as NU won 6-2.

NU couldn’t pull off the sweep Saturday, mustering only 2 runs in a 5-2 defeat. Senior Nick Friar allowed 5 runs, 3 earned, in 6 2/3 innings, and a trio of fellow seniors — Ethan Bramschreiber, Dan Tyson and Jack Quigley— closed out their careers thereafter.

Despite Saturday’s loss, the series was a satisfying way to end the year.

“I’m just so proud of the guys,” Heelan said. “We just had a great weekend as a team and really put together some great team wins. Our pitching did phenomenal — all three starters and our relief pitching — the defense, and we just had timely hitting from everyone.”

Given the way the season ended, the return of nearly the entire starting lineup, the recovery from injury of numerous players, the incoming class of freshman and the promise shown by several young guys this year, the Cats say there’s a lot to be confident in heading into 2015.

“I like where we’re at,” Stevens said. “I’m excited about what I’m witnessing from the people that are witnessing, that are playing. Throw those guys in with the guys who are rehabbing and coming back, … the future is going to be awful interesting.”

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