Baseball: Northwestern squanders leads in another series sweep


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Joe Hoscheit takes a cut. The junior outfielder hit a grand slam in Sunday’s 7-6 loss to Indiana.

Ben Pope, Reporter


Prior to this weekend’s series at Indiana, Northwestern coach Spencer Allen stressed the importance for his team to play with the lead.

They accomplished that goal in Bloomington, holding an advantage on the scoreboard at some point in all three contests. But on every occasion, the Wildcats (10-33, 2-16 Big Ten) were unable to hold the lead against the Hoosiers (26-16, 11-4), as NU was swept for the third consecutive series.

“It really goes back to each individual guy going out and executing their job and we’re just not doing that,” Allen said. “That’s why we’re not closing out games and why we’re not putting them away when we have opportunities.”

The Cats began their Friday doubleheader with a run in the top of the first but were unable to further dent Indiana pitcher Kyle Hart, the conference leader in wins, for the remainder of the contest in the 2-1 defeat.

NU looked poised to rebound in the second game of the day when two RBIs by sophomore infielder Grant Peikert and 5.2 scoreless innings from junior pitcher Joe Schindler helped the visitors lead 3-0 entering the bottom of the eighth. Indiana rallied, however, and eventually claimed the 4-3 win when NU’s freshman pitcher Tyler Lass and senior outfielder Zach Jones botched an easy out at first base while Indiana’s Craig Dedelow crossed home plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth — a walk-off error.

“In that game, we had a chance to really extend the lead and we didn’t,” Allen said. “We made a … big defensive error, we dove for a ball and the guy got an inside-the-park home run, and really from that point on we just kind of lost the momentum.”

A grand slam by junior outfielder Joe Hoscheit highlighted Sunday’s finale, capping off a Cats comeback from 5-1 down to take a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning. But two unearned runs on a botched fielder’s choice in the bottom of the frame gave the Hoosiers back a lead they would never again relinquish.

Despite the loss, Hoscheit, who reached base twice in all three games, said the home run was a welcome pay-off for his recent work trying to correct a flaw in his swing.

“I wasn’t trying to hit a home run. I was just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere,” Hoscheit said. “I’d been getting under the ball a little bit so I just worked in practice to … level out my swing and fortunately it worked out.”

Hoscheit also praised the atmosphere at Indiana’s Bart Kaufman Field, saying that Friday’s nightcap brought back nostalgic memories.

“In the night game especially … it almost felt like summer,” he said. “I know a lot of guys play summer ball on our team and it was almost like a summer ball atmosphere, so it was really cool to experience that.”

Since the Cats’ Big Ten losing streak hit nine straight games, pleasant moments such as that will be important for the team’s confidence moving forward. Allen said a lack of confidence has probably contributed to their struggles under pressure.

Sophomore infielder Connor Lind, who went 4-for-10 on the weekend to up his season batting average to .308, spoke optimistically about the series’ takeaways.

“There were some times where we could’ve executed better, especially in terms of hitting,” Lind said. “We just missed some opportunities but we’ve got to take that and learn from it and move forward.

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