Baseball: Wildcats edge out local rival Flames


Jesse Kramer/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern and UIC square off under the Chicago skyline. The Wildcats bested their crosstown rival thanks to a strong team pitching performance.

Jesse Kramer, Reporter


CHICAGO — Reid Hunter missed batting practice because of a migraine, but he was ready when coach Paul Stevens called his name Wednesday in the top of the eighth inning. Northwestern and UIC were tied, 2-2, and the senior had an opportunity to give the Wildcats a lead with two teammates in scoring position.

Hunter did not waste any time, sending a first-pitch fastball from reliever Ryan Hinchley into right field for a two-run single.

“I was ready to go,” Hunter said. “I knew he was probably going to start me with a fastball, so I just took a hack, my first of the day.”

That gave the Cats a 4-2 lead, which the bullpen secured in the final two innings. The Flames put runners on first and second to start the bottom of the ninth against reliever Jake Stolley, but the junior narrowly escaped with his fifth save of the season, thanks to the arm of senior centerfielder Kyle Ruchim.

With two outs, Ruchim gunned down the game-tying run at home plate and NU escaped with a 4-3 victory.

“To be honest, I got a pretty bad grip out of the glove,” Ruchim said. “But I was coming through, I used my momentum a little bit. I’ve made better throws, but it got the job done.”

The Cats had trouble getting the job done offensively aside from that breakthrough eighth inning.

NU failed to capitalize in the second inning with one out and runners on second and third.

The Cats pushed one runner across in the third inning, but wasted another opportunity as senior catcher Scott Heelan grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Cats had a chance to strike in the seventh inning with two men in scoring position with one out. However, after freshman Connor Lind popped up, senior Luke Dauch got caught leaning off third on a pitch in the dirt, ending NU’s turn at the plate.

Once again, NU would not let back-to-back opportunities go to waste. With the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning, junior Antonio Freschet scored on a passed ball before Hunter drove home the go-ahead runs.

“Look at what Reid’s done all year,” Stevens said. “He smoked the ball all (last) weekend and didn’t have much to show for it, so that hit wasn’t any surprise to me.”

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