Baseball: Wildcats muster just 2 hits in latest loss to UIC


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Jack Dunn swings through a pitch. The sophomore infielder and the Wildcats mustered just two hits in a shutout loss to UIC on Tuesday.

Talia Hendel, Reporter


Right off the heels of two strong comeback wins during last weekend’s Air Force series, Northwestern failed to maintain the offensive momentum Tuesday in its third contest of the season against Illinois-Chicago.

The Wildcats (8-19, 0-3 Big Ten) followed their storybook ending Sunday with a poor offensive showing that resulted in just two hits, as Flames’ starting pitcher Jacob Key’s strong performance led to UIC’s eventual 3-0 win.

“Just the conditions today (were different),” sophomore shortstop Jack Dunn said. “In order to score runs we had to be very good at the small things. … I credit UIC’s pitching staff. They kept us off balance, they threw strikes, they didn’t give us anything free.”

While NU made contact several times in the early innings, Dunn said the placement of those swings allowed the Flames to make plays defensively. This, combined with the Cats’ inability to come up with big hits with runners in scoring positions, hampered their ability to make the game competitive.

“We had some competitive at-bats,” coach Spencer Allen said. “It doesn’t necessarily show up in a box score, but just stringing those together and making sure you have nine innings full of those (at-bats), those were some positives.”

Though inconsistency continues to infect the Cats’ offense, NU did perform well defensively against UIC.

Senior pitcher Cooper Wetherbee has been a major contributor to that success in recent games, and continued in similar fashion Tuesday by allowing just 1 earned run in 3 innings of work. He credited the pitching staff with maintaining that consistency and believes the offense will soon follow suit.

“Something we talked about all year long is really making other teams beat us, forcing other teams to execute instead of just handing them free stuff,” Wetherbee said. “I’ve got confidence that those guys on the offense will come around and hit more like they did this past weekend where they’re getting quality at-bats and really hitting the ball well out there.”

Though Wetherbee was disappointed in the loss to a “crosstown rivalry” team, he said the Cats’ spirits remain high.

NU has faced UIC five other times over the past two seasons and has always struggled, particularly on the offensive end, falling to the Flames each time and never tallying more than four runs.

The Cats do not have much time to dwell on the past, however, as they begin a home series against Iowa on Friday.

“We hit the ball hard early and they didn’t fall,” Allen said. “They made some nice defensive plays, and we just kind of got in a little bit of a rut and just could not get the sticks pulled today. I’m not looking too much into it, I think our guys will bounce back.”

Tuesday’s game did not go according to plan for NU. With their next Big Ten series rapidly approaching and an 0-6 conference start a possibility, however, the Cats remain optimistic.

“We’re trying to come out and play hard and stay consistent over the weekend so we’re really just stressing consistency in all three phases of the game,” Wetherbee said. “If you can get all three of those to show up on a regular basis, you’re going to have a good chance to win a lot of ballgames.”

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