Baseball: Northwestern to begin series at Indiana with doubleheader


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Ben Dickey sprints out of the batter’s box. The freshman outfielder has started 27 games this season and is sixth on the team in batting average.

Ben Pope, Reporter


After arriving in Bloomington, Indiana, on Thursday night, Northwestern will waste little time getting into the thick of its weekend series against Indiana.

Forecasted stormy weather for Saturday forced a schedule change, and the Wildcats (10-30, 2-13 Big Ten) and Hoosiers (23-16, 8-4) will now play a doubleheader Friday afternoon before a Sunday series finale.

“When you play a doubleheader, really anything can happen,” senior pitcher Reed Mason said. “You win the first game, and you’re feeling like you have a shot to go into the second game and win a series. That’s always a fun prospect to be able to go into one single day and be able to win the series there.”

Based on the course of NU’s past few series, the condensed Friday slate may indeed work in the visitors’ favor. Over the past two weekends, the Cats lost by narrow 2- and 1-run margins, respectively, on Friday games before being routed in the ensuing contests — getting two contests out of the way Friday could maximize that early-series energy.

Against Indiana, the team will try to translate Mason’s start in the first Friday game into an early lead, which coach Spencer Allen said is crucial to their ability to play with confidence.

“The goal coming in is, ‘Let’s see if we can get a lead and put some pressure on Indiana this weekend,’ versus trying to play from behind,” Allen said. “Reed has done a great job setting that tone and hopefully we can get a couple of other guys to … take Reed’s lead.”

Junior pitcher Joe Schindler is projected to start the second half of Friday’s doubleheader, but Sunday’s starter had not been announced as of Thursday night.

Off the mound, the emergence of freshman outfielder Ben Dickey has also stood out as a bright spot of late, Allen said.

Dickey’s playing time has steadily increased as the season has progressed, with him appearing in 10 straight games — eight of which he started in — entering this weekend. The Elk Grove, Illinois, native went 3-for-4 in the team’s most recent win — 12-10 over Chicago State last week — and scored the squad’s lone run in last Saturday’s defeat.

“I think I have progressed a pretty good amount,” Dickey said. “Coach is working with me all the time, almost every day about my swing and the mental side of the game. It’s been great to be able to play a good amount this year.”

Dickey and NU will be challenged by an Indiana team that has found success through its pitching this season. The Hoosiers rank second in the Big Ten in team ERA and boast the conference’s winningest pitcher, senior Kyle Hart (8-2, 2.57 ERA), as well as its second-lowest individual ERA, senior Caleb Baragar (3-2, 1.95 ERA).

But both Hart and Baragar are left-handed, which could bode well for a Cats’ lineup loaded with right-handed batters. Allen said that disparity “excites” him, especially at Indiana’s Bart Kaufman Field, which he called a batters’ park.

Coming off a full week of rest — NU didn’t play a mid-week, non-conference game this week for the first time since mid-March — Dickey said the players hope their refreshed mindsets and rested bodies will equate to successful series.

“Not having a mid-week game is nice,” Dickey said. “It’s good to get back to practice and … really work on our skills. I thought it was a good week for us, so I’m really excited going into the weekend.”

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