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Baseball: Northwestern gets swept by Arizona State in opening series of season

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Baseball: Northwestern gets swept by Arizona State in opening series of season

Connor Lind hits down the third base line. The junior said Northwestern will move past its disappointing opening series.

Connor Lind hits down the third base line. The junior said Northwestern will move past its disappointing opening series.

Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Connor Lind hits down the third base line. The junior said Northwestern will move past its disappointing opening series.

Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Connor Lind hits down the third base line. The junior said Northwestern will move past its disappointing opening series.

Evan Augeri, Reporter

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A lack of plate discipline cost Northwestern in its opening series of the season, as the Wildcats lost all three of their games to Arizona State over the weekend.

NU (0-3) tallied only 10 hits in 27 innings, and scored 6 total runs as the Sun Devils (3-1) racked up 13. Second-year coach Spencer Allen attributed the outcomes partly to his lineup chasing pitches and not capitalizing on advantageous counts.

The Cats did find ways to get on base despite only recording three hits; in the first game, the team drew four walks and was hit by three pitches. But NU stranded seven baserunners throughout the game and ultimately lost 3-1.

Allen said he was pleased with the team’s baserunning efforts, however. In the final game, sophomore shortstop Jack Dunn and freshman catcher Nick Paciorek each stole bases.

“We didn’t look out of place on the bases,” Allen said. “It was just tough getting there.”

Senior Joe Schindler, who spent much of last season serving a suspension, had a strong debut as the Cats’ opening day starting pitcher. He lasted 5.1 innings, allowed two runs on five hits, and struck out four.

“I wasn’t happy that we lost,” Schindler said. “But it gives me something to build off of, and hopefully next week I can go deeper into the game. I’d like to get to seven innings each time. … That’s my mark.”

This season, Schindler will help lead a young pitching staff that Allen said has been exciting in the early going.

Right-hander Hank Christie and southpaw Matt Gannon, both freshmen, performed well over the weekend in the first pitching opportunities of their careers. Christie started the second game, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings and striking out three, while Gannon started the third and allowed one run in two innings.

“(Christie) has ice in his veins,” Allen said. “He’s not going to blow up the radar gun, but he commands the baseball in and out, and he doesn’t get rattled. … (Gannon) came out and threw strikes. Most importantly, all our pitchers didn’t walk or hit many people, and if we can keep that trend going, we’re going to be OK.”

NU will next travel to Tennessee on Friday to face Middle Tennessee, Belmont and Lipscomb in the annual Mule Mix Classic round-robin tournament.

Junior third baseman Connor Lind, who recorded one hit and two RBIs during the series, agreed with Allen’s sentiments and said he thinks that better, more patient at bats will be essential if the Cats hope to make a turnaround on the road trip.

“This week, we’re working on hitting better in advanced counts, line drives, putting balls in the gaps,” Lind said. “One weekend won’t define us. We’re trying to move on. We’re working hard, and it’ll show this weekend.”

Allen said his goal is to have a .500 record by the Cats’ first home game against UIC on Mar. 7.

After the trip to Tennessee, the Cats will travel to Santa Clara for another three-game series. NU must win five of those next six games to reach Allen’s target.

“It’ll come down to our pitching and defense,” he said. “We need to stay consistent in those areas. I think all of this is for naught if we’re not winning ballgames. If we’re around .500 when we come back home, we’ll be in good shape.”

Email: evanaugeri2020@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @augerie

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