Baseball: Northwestern looks for rebound against Milwaukee


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Matt Hopfner runs to first base. The senior outfielder and the Wildcats are seeking a victory at home Tuesday against Milwaukee.

Talia Hendel, Reporter


After its longest winning streak of the season came to a halt last weekend, Northwestern is searching to regain all-around consistency to lead them to victory Tuesday against Milwaukee.

“I think that we’ve been kind of spotty in one of the three in each of the last couple games,” senior outfielder Matt Hopfner said. “Hopefully, we can play a clean game defensively, on the mound, and get some clutch hits.”

Although the Wildcats (13-22, 3-6 Big Ten) only came away with only one win in last weekend’s Illinois series, they have had some recent success, winning five of their last seven games.

NU owes a significant amount of their recent stretch to a consistently strong showing by senior outfielder Joe Hoscheit, who was singlehandedly responsible for 10 hits, nine RBIs and five runs scored over four games. For his accomplishments, he was named Big Ten player of the week.

Hopfner contributed as well, with three RBIs of his own on Saturday.

“Offensively, I think that we’re starting to get a little more consistent,” coach Spencer Allen said.

That consistency did not manifest itself into a series win against the Fighting Illini, however. As a result, this weekend’s series against Penn State is crucial if the Cats make a push towards the Big Ten Tournament, and a win Tuesday would help NU regain momentum ahead of that series.

The Cats’ upcoming schedule provides some potential opportunities for a new streak, as the Nittany Lions have struggled significantly, particularly in conference games, winning just one of nine Big Ten matchups. The following game against Chicago State offers NU hope as well, since the Cats have already beaten the Cougars this season.

A win against Milwaukee (12-20) on Tuesday would be a positive step in that direction. All-around consistency will be a key factor in whether NU takes that step, Hoscheit said.

“We need to do well in all facets of the game: pitching, defense and hitting,” he said. “Once we put all that together, I think we’re tough to beat, and if we can do that, I think we’ll be in good shape going into the weekend.”

Milwaukee is also playing well, however, having won four of their last five games and putting up a gaudy 29 runs in consecutive victories last week.

Their offensive success has not gone unnoticed by Allen, who will start Josh Davis on the mound. The senior has excelled in previous midweek starts this season, including a strong 6 inning outing last week against Western Michigan.

“UW-Milwaukee, traditionally, they can really, really hit,” Allen said.

Both teams will enter Tuesday’s game game on the heels of close losses, with NU falling 10-8 in the series finale at Illinois and Milwaukee dropping a 6-5 contest to Youngstown State.

For the Cats to reverse their recent fortunes, Allen said they need to make the Panthers earn everything both offensively and defensively.

“We just need to continue to pound the bottom of the zone,” he said. “I just want to see that we’re not throwing any at-bats away.”

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