Baseball: Wildcats’ offense shut out in doubleheader losses to Michigan


Daily file photo by Kate Salvidio

Alex Erro takes a pitch. Erro’s 14-game hitting streak was snapped Saturday against Michigan.

Charlie Goldsmith, Assistant Sports Editor


Willie Bourbon pumped his fist as he rounded first base because Northwestern’s offense finally had the potential for a promising inning in Saturday’s doubleheader.

The junior first baseman led off the second inning of the second game with a liner into center field, but his single was just the Cats’ (8-16, 1-7 Big Ten) third hit of the day, and it was their last in 18 innings of baseball.

Michigan (18-11, 11-1 Big Ten) won the second leg 3-0 after winning the first 6-0 on a long, mostly joyless day at Miller Park.

In the first game, it looked like NU freshman Quinn Lavelle, the reigning Big Ten pitcher of the Week, could buy enough time for the offense. He held the Wolverines scoreless in the first four innings and pitched his thirteenth consecutive scoreless inning, but a four-run fifth opened the floodgates for an offense that peppered NU from then on. Michigan outfielder Jesse Franklin capped off the inning with a two-run double off Lavelle, then hit a solo homer to right field in the eighth that further extended the Wolverines’ lead.

After a quiet start in the 30-degree weather, Michigan ended the first game with nine hits and added ten in the second while NU struggled to make contact. Sophomore second baseman Alex Erro’s 14-game hitting streak was snapped. After a multi-homer game in his last against Maryland on Saturday, senior catcher Jack Claeys didn’t provide a spark at the plate either.

Sophomore outfielder Leo Kaplan had both hits for NU in the first game but was 0-3 in the second, and the team drew four walks in the first nine innings but just one in the latter nine. NU ranks second in the conference in stolen bases, but the Cats didn’t get the runners on in the first place.

Frustration mounted in the fifth inning of the second game, when Michigan junior Ako Thomas attempted a bunt down the first base line. As both sides waited for the ball to skew fair or foul, Thomas and NU catcher Nick Paciorek chattered as they headed down the baseline, and Paciorek eventually got in his way to prevent the opposing infielder from getting face time with pitcher Hank Christie. A Michigan player left the dugout as he saw the confrontation take place, and manager Spencer Allen went to home plate to hold court with the umpire.

There weren’t any consequences except a warning issued to both teams and two runs issued by the Wolverines, extending their lead to 3-0 giving them more than enough cushion to extend their winning streak to 14 games.

The first game was delayed by 30 minutes because of low temperatures,and because the delay and the doubleheader pushed back their schedule, the team was not made available to reporters after the game. But as he left the dugout after the eighteenth inning of scoreless play, Allen took a deep breath and shook his head after a frustrating six hours of uninspiring baseball.

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