Baseball: After six straight losses, Northwestern finally notches first win

Alex Putterman, Web Editor


It was about time.

After six straight losses to start the season, Northwestern beat Villanova 7-5 on Sunday for its first victory of 2015.

NU, competing in the Irish Alamo Invitational in San Antonio, had lost its first three games and risked finishing a second straight weekend without a win.

But the Wildcats in purple scored 6 runs in the first five innings Sunday against Villanova’s Wildcats and never gave up the lead. Eight different NU players contributed hits Sunday, and the team’s two-through-five hitters produced two apiece.

For a team that averaged only 2.2 runs per game entering Sunday, the outburst was a relief.

“Sometimes it just takes some time for the bats to kind of wake up and get going,” said senior catcher Scott Heelan, who had eight hits on the weekend. “Everyone’s approaches look better each game, and people are just putting better swings on it.”

Making his first start of the season, sophomore pitcher Joe Schindler shut down Villanova for four innings, then escaped a jam in the fifth allowing only 1 run. He allowed two hits to begin the sixth, then was replaced by sophomore Pete Hofman, who allowed the two inherited runners to score, plus two more, to bring the score to 6-5.

But NU added a run in the eighth and held on thanks to two-and-a-third scoreless innings from sophomore reliever Jake Stolley.

Schindler, currently the fourth guy in a typically three-man weekend rotation, said he enjoyed contributing to the team’s first win.

“It was nice to get the first win off our backs and get it rolling a little bit,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to getting starts when I can and doing well when I’m given the opportunity.”

NU had already lost to Villanova once in San Antonio, falling 4-3 on Friday thanks to a ninth-inning Villanova rally against Hofman and Stolley.

The Cats also dropped the second game of Friday’s double-header, losing 8-1 to Incarnate Word, then fell to Notre Dame 7-3 on Saturday.

Sunday marked the return of senior Kyle Ruchim, who was suspended for the season’s first six games for having an adviser serve as an agent in conversation with the St. Louis Cardinals, after they drafted him in the 39th round of the MLB Draft in June.

Ruchim started in center field and went 1-for-5 at the plate Sunday, as the team picked up its much-needed first win.

“We just had to get the first one out of the way,” Heelan said, “and now we can move forward and have a great season ahead of us.”

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