Baseball: Nine pitchers, timely hitting lead Wildcats to win over Bradley


Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Jake Stolley fires a pitch. The senior was the first of the Wildcats’ nine pitchers to take the mound in Wednesday’s win over Bradley.

Will Ragatz, Reporter


Pitching was a group effort for Northwestern on Wednesday afternoon.

Nine Wildcat pitchers threw an inning apiece for NU (9-24, 2-7 Big Ten) in a 5-1 victory over Bradley (15-11, 1-1 Missouri Valley). The Cats also racked up 10 hits, including a 2-run triple by junior Jake Schieber that gave the team some breathing room in the sixth inning.

However, the story of the game was NU’s unconventional pitching approach. It’s something associate head coach Josh Reynolds, who is in charge of the pitchers, called a “Staff Day,” which is actually pretty common in college baseball, he said.

“With midweek games, you see it around the country a little bit,” Reynolds said. “They may not go nine guys, but they’ll break it up and maybe have five or six guys go. We just felt that it was good for our guys going into the weekend, to get guys out there … that needed to get some more work.”

Traditionally, a team will let its starting pitcher go for as long as he remains effective before turning the game over to its bullpen. But with Wednesday’s game being a non-conference matchup scheduled in between weekend Big Ten series, NU’s coaching staff elected to get as many pitchers into the game as possible.

Coach Spencer Allen said the decision was all about getting a bunch of pitchers some game action.

“For us, the more the guys touch the mound, the better feel they’re going to have,” Allen said. “Coach Reynolds, I told him ‘hell of a job,’ he had them ready, because sometimes that can implode on you if one guy goes bad.”

Fortunately for the Cats, that didn’t happen.

NU’s nine pitchers combined to strike out 10 Bradley batters and allowed just six hits. When junior Pete Hofman surrendered the Braves’ lone run in the eighth, it was the only time Bradley recorded multiple hits in an inning.

The Cats put up an impressive performance on the offensive side of the ball as well.

NU opened the bottom of the second inning with three straight hits and ended the frame with a 2-0 lead, which was all the offense it needed. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Schieber stepped up to the plate with two runners on base and two outs. He rocketed a ball into deep left that grazed the end of the outfielder’s glove for a 2-run triple. The ensuing batter, freshman centerfielder Ben Dickey, shot a single through the infield to score Schieber and give NU a comfortable lead.

The big hits by Schieber and Dickey, the bottom of the Cats’ batting order, were emblematic of the lineup’s overall performance. NU’s top-four batters were just 2-for-12 on the day, while hitters five through nine went 8-for-18 at the plate.

“We were getting in position with the middle of the order and then the bottom of the order just came up huge,” Allen said.

With the win, the Cats have taken consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 19, when they swept Nevada in a doubleheader to open the season.

Freshman Willie Bourbon, who had two hits Wednesday, said NU hasn’t been consistent enough in all aspects of the game to put together any winning streaks, but that changed against Bradley.

“We’ve got to bring all three phases of the game together and play as one unit,” Bourbon said. “The pitching was on today, the hitting’s been on for a little bit now and our defense has been solid throughout. Now that those are all tying together, it’s perfect timing and we’re looking to make a run coming up.”

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