Baseball: Rallying after surprise series victory, NU attempts to carry momentum into two midweek games


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Leo Kaplan takes his lead. The freshman outfielder and the Wildcats are looking to translate this weekend’s success into midweek games.

Joseph Wilkinson, Reporter


Coming off rare back-to-back conference wins, Northwestern is looking to keep its positive momentum rolling this week against Western Michigan and Bradley.

The Wildcats took two of three games from Iowa last weekend, but this season NU is only 1-3 in midweek games, and has generally failed to carry any weekend momentum into its other performances.

“Iowa’s one of the better teams in the Big Ten,” senior pitcher Pete Hofman said. “This series really showed us that we could hang and then carrying that momentum and success into the midweeks and then into the next one will be big for us.”

Seniors Josh Davis and Cooper Wetherbee have held down the midweek starts for the Cats so far this season as they’ve combined for two of the top three ERAs on the team.

Wetherbee boasts a team low 2.28 ERA, while Davis, who is slated to get the ball Tuesday, is third on the squad at 3.63. These two have shown impressive control on the season, walking only 15 batters total in 46 innings combined.

Beyond the starters, the NU bullpen has struggled mightily at times this season, including in Friday’s game when juniors Richard Fordon and JR Reimer combined to allow 7 runs in the eighth inning.

The next two games were a different story, with freshman Sam Lawrence throwing 5 scoreless innings Saturday and Hofman icing the Iowa bats for 3 innings Sunday.

The Cats will need that weekend efficiency out of the bullpen against Western Michigan (13-14), which boasts a .302 team batting average. The Broncos, however, are not quite as impressive on the mound, where they have a 5.86 ERA.

They were particularly poor last weekend, when they allowed 46 runs in three losses against a middling Ball State team.

NU coach Spencer Allen said he hopes his team can take advantage of the struggling Western Michigan arms.

“We had a chance to put up about 10 runs on Sunday,” Allen said. “That’s just the thing that I want to make sure that we do a better job of: spreading it out when we have the opportunity.”

Those opportunities should be present against Bradley (12-16) as well, as the Braves have posted a poor 6.97 team ERA so far this season.

In its most recent series, Bradley took two of three from Milwaukee, but dropped the final game 13-4 on Sunday.

Freshman Leo Kaplan, who started the rally against Iowa on Sunday, said he knows better than to underestimate the Cats’ upcoming opponents.

“For the midweek games, just staying focused on them is crucial, even though it’s not Big Ten play,” Kaplan said. “We have a lot of momentum right now after the Air Force series and that (Iowa) series win, so we just need to continue with that momentum and continue doing what we’re doing.”

Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson