Baseball: Consistency on both ends gives Northwestern win over Western Michigan


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Matt Hopfner looks for a hit. The senior designated hitter went 3-for-4 in Northwestern’s win over Western Michigan on Tuesday.

Talia Hendel, Reporter


It only took four batters for Northwestern to take command of their contest against Western Michigan on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats (11-20, 2-4 Big Ten) hit the ground running, taking the lead in the first inning and never trailing in their eventual 11-4 win. The victory extended their winning streak to three games.

“We made them grind a little bit and hats off to our guys, that’s what it’s supposed to look like,” coach Spencer Allen said. “One run here, two runs there, and then late it’s a little bit easier to score those runs.”

Senior pitcher Josh Davis sparked the team’s defensive success, silencing the Broncos (13-15) for the first four innings and allowing the offense some time to take the lead.

Davis faced 24 batters throughout his six innings on the mound and gave up only six hits. The pitching staff as a whole, composed of Davis, junior JR Reimer, junior Richard Fordon and senior Cooper Wetherbee, only allowed one walk.

Limiting free bases has been a key focus of the team, Davis said.

“No freebies, I think that’s huge for us,” Davis said. “There’s a big correlation of when we give up free bases and when we win games, so the key is limiting the free bases, making them earn it … as long as we’re able to limit the free bases, I think we’ll continue to have success.”

Offensively, NU tallied its second-highest score all season, with seven different batters contributing hits.

Junior catcher Jack Claeys was a crucial factor offensively. Claeys’ two-run home run in the seventh inning brought in senior Matt Hopfner to extend the Cats’ lead from 5-4 to 7-4.

Hopfner himself had a successful day at the plate, going 3-4 and scoring three runs. Claeys combined with Connor Lind and Leo Kaplan to total three home runs — the first time this season NU has had more than one home run in a game.

“We’re finally playing the games completely, innings one through nine,” Claeys said. “We’re not giving them free stuff, we’re not giving up errors, we’re not walking batters and that’s just allowing us to stay in games longer, giving our offense a chance to win games.”

The Cats will face Bradley on Wednesday before returning to conference play with a series at Illinois this weekend, having won six of their last nine games.

Davis said the team hopes to maintain the success through the rest of the week.

“It’s really easy to get pumped up for Big Ten games because there’s an atmosphere, there’s a crowd,” Davis said. “Midweek games are a little bit more slow, you have to provide the energy yourself so just coming into the game the same way and taking the same intensity.”

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