Baseball: Lind’s walk-off gives Northwestern series win over Air Force


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Connor Lind takes a swing. The junior infielder hit a walk-off home run Sunday to give the Wildcats the series win over Air Force.

Talia Hendel, Reporter


Connor Lind was the eventual hero of a weekend series against Air Force — the hitter of a fairytale-like walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

“I can’t really put into words how that feels,” the junior infielder said. “It doesn’t happen much, even with as many games as you play throughout your whole life. It’s really exciting and just to be with your team and to have those guys around you mobbing you, it’s a great feeling.”

The walk-off gave Northwestern (8-18, 0-3 Big Ten) a 3-2 victory Sunday in a game in which the Wildcats never led, and a series win that looked unlikely after a sluggish start Saturday.

Though NU never played from ahead Sunday, freshmen pitchers Matt Gannon and Josh Levy, who allowed only one run each, kept the Cats in the game, coach Spencer Allen said.

“Today we pitched it really well,” he said. “We had some big defensive plays that were a lot of fun. We weren’t swinging the bats great … but just kept fighting and that was fun to see.”

With NU down 2-1 in the the eighth, pulling out a series-deciding win seemed out of reach until senior outfielder Joe Hoscheit’s RBI tied the game at 2 going into the ninth.

Lind ended it two frames later.

“The only thing I was thinking when the ball got up there is just the wind, sometimes the wind can do funny things, but everyone else in the park seemed to know it was gone,” Allen said.

The series began in rough fashion for NU, which allowed 10 runs in just 3 innings in Saturday’s first game. The Cats could not overcome the deficit and fell 11-3.

NU looked to be in a similarly precarious position in the day’s second contest, trailing 6-0 in the early innings. Freshman pitcher Sam Lawrence, however, stemmed the tide. He threw 3 scoreless innings in the middle frames, preventing Air Force (12-15) from extending its lead further.

“My mentality was just keep the game close, let us have a chance to win the game, and I think I did my job and just held us in the game the whole time,” Lawrence said.

The Cats chipped away at the lead, scoring in four of five frames to eventually go in front. Senior outfielder Matt Hopfner singled up the middle in the sixth, bringing home sophomore designated hitter Ben Dickey to tie the game. An inning later, senior outfielder Jake Schieber singled, bringing home Hoscheit to give NU its first lead of the day in the eventual 7-6 win.

The Cats’ continued fight was one of the few areas of consistency throughout the series, and an issue that has plagued NU all season. After a rough start to Big Ten play last weekend, the Cats have now won two straight and three of their last four games.

“This series win is huge at home moving forward to just give us some momentum,” Lind said. “Consistency wise, we just have to take it day by day and not get too down or too high, and just have to stay composed and move forward with the momentum.”

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