Baseball: Wildcats out for redemption against UIC

Jack+Dunn+prepares+for+a+pitch.+The+sophomore+infielder+and+the+Wildcats+are+looking+for+their+first+win+of+the+season+against+Illinois-Chicago.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Jack Dunn prepares for a pitch. The sophomore infielder and the Wildcats are looking for their first win of the season against Illinois-Chicago.

Joseph Wilkinson, Reporter


Baseball


Northwestern is looking for revenge Tuesday against Illinois-Chicago, who have already beaten the Wildcats twice this year.

The teams’ third meeting is the first one at Curtis Granderson Stadium for NU (8-18, 0-3 Big Ten) this season, and the Cats hope that the change of venue coincides with a different result after two defeats at Miller Park earlier this season.

“I felt like we threw away some at bats, so I think the biggest thing is just making sure that we fight a little more at the plate,” coach Spencer Allen said. “Then on the pitching side just limiting free bases, when we do that we prove that it’s hard to score runs.”

NU struggled on both sides of the ball in its previous two match-ups against UIC, dropping a 9-2 game in 7 innings in early March before losing 7-1 two weeks later.

Both games featured below-average starts from Cats pitchers, as both freshman Matt Gannon and senior Cooper Wetherbee were each tagged for 2 runs in the first inning of their respective starts. The struggles continued through the bullpen, as every NU pitcher to appear against the Flames this year has allowed at least one run.

This past weekend’s series against Air Force, however, was largely a different story. The Cats allowed eight runs in the last two games combined, and shut down a high-powered Falcons offense on Sunday to set the stage for junior infielder Connor Lind’s walk-off home run.

“I have to give credit to those guys; they really kept us in the game,” Lind said. “Josh Levy and Matt Gannon starting the game off strong and kept us in that close ball game.”

For UIC (17-7), freshman pitcher Jacob Key has limited NU to only three runs in over 9 innings pitched against the Cats so far this year. Last time out, however, the home team was able to knock Key out in the fourth inning after picking up six hits and a run.

Unfortunately for NU, however, that was the only run they scored. The Flames’ bullpen has allowed only two hits while striking out six in the previous two meetings.

Against Air Force, the Cats were far more impressive offensively. Sophomore Jack Dunn, NU’s regular leadoff hitter, was the catalyst. The infielder picked up six hits in 11 at-bats this past weekend after being in a slump for most of the season.

Dunn’s early-season struggles included two 0-for-3 performances at the top of the lineup against the Flames. NU’s quest for revenge will depend on a serious turnaround on both sides of the ball, but the Cats aren’t worried about their underwhelming previous performances.

“We just learn from the games we pitch well and just try to mimic that every time,” freshman pitcher Sam Lawrence said, “and just let the games that we let up a lot of runs just go, just move on.”

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Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson

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