Baseball: Wildcats aim for even play in final non-conference series

Jesse Kramer, Reporter


Going into its final non-conference series this week, consistency has been a major issue for Northwestern this season.

The team’s problem showed once again in last weekend’s series loss to Nebraska. After winning Saturday’s game 5-0, the Wildcats posted their own goose egg Sunday in an 11-0 defeat.

NU will start a two-game set Tuesday against Kansas. The Cats have their eyes on building and harnessing positive momentum before heading into their final two Big Ten series.

“We just got to do a better job of when we get that little bit of positive momentum, keeping it rolling and moving forward with it, and whenever something bad happens improving on it,” senior catcher Scott Heelan said of the team’s inconsistency following the Nebraska series. “Baseball is a game of adjustments, so we just got to keep going out there and trying our best.”

The Cats sit three games out of the Big Ten Tournament with six conference games remaining, so the team’s margin for error is slim.

And it will be even slimmer if star centerfielder Kyle Ruchim remains sidelined with an oblique injury.

Coach Paul Stevens has not set a timetable for the senior prospect’s recovery.

“Right now, he’s out,” Stevens said. “I’m not taking a chance on injuring him or playing him. He’s our best player and I love him to death. But until he’s ready to go I’m not jeopardizing his career.”

NU’s weak point this season has been on the mound, but the bats have taken a step back as well with Ruchim on the bench.

Although the 11-0 loss Sunday was a disaster on both sides, the Cats received stellar pitching performances in the first two games from senior Brandon Magallones and junior Matt Portland.

Magallones allowed 3 runs in eight innings while striking out eight batters, and Mason tossed a complete-game shutout, the first of his career, in NU’s only win of the series. He earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors Monday.

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