Baseball: Cats crumble against Indiana, suffer worst single-game defeat since 2010


Daily file photo by David Lee

Jack Claeys takes a swing. The senior catcher extended his hitting streak to five games this weekend even though Northwestern was swept by Indiana.

Ryan Wangman, Copy Chief


Even in the midst of a season of hardships, senior catcher Jack Claeys stresses to underclassmen the importance of staying emotionally consistent.

“You blink an eye and you’re a senior graduating,” Claeys said. “It feels crazy. I remember not too long ago it feels like I was stepping on campus with Paul Stevens as a head coach and now it’s a completely different look and completely different feel around the program.”

Claeys’ advice comes as Northwestern (9-20, 1-11 Big Ten) looks for answers following a series against No. 10 Indiana (26-6, 6-2) in which it was outscored 40-4 over three games. The Wildcats matched their 2017 mark for conference losses over the weekend and suffered the program’s worst single game defeat since 2010 in a 22-1 loss Sunday.

Holistically, Claeys said Indiana is in the “top two or three” of teams he’s faced in his collegiate career. Regardless of the competition, the Minnesota native was one of the most successful Cats batters from the weekend, extending his hitting streak to five games while tacking on a stolen base and 2 RBIs.

NU played a doubleheader Friday because of poor weather conditions on Saturday and dropped the first game 12-0, with the pitching staff combining to allow 17 hits. The Hoosiers rocked freshman starter Quinn Lavelle, shelling the leftie for 6 runs over 3.1 innings of work, the most the Ohio native has allowed in a game over his young career.

The Cats rebounded in game two, with sophomore pitcher Hank Christie limiting the Indiana bats to one run during his six innings pitched. Anchored by a three-hit performance from junior shortstop Jack Dunn, NU took a two-run lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, which unraveled after relievers Josh Levy and Rich Fordon collectively gave up 5 runs in the frame.

Dunn said although his performance gave him confidence, it was bittersweet because the series ended in defeat. Compared to last year’s team, which made a spirited run to reach the finals of the Big Ten Tournament, Dunn said this team lacks the same ability to capitalize on crucial opportunities and players need to believe in themselves for good things to happen.

“We haven’t clicked yet,” Dunn said. “Once we click again, we can start a run like we did last year. We just need one or two big hits or one or two big pitching performances and we’re right there.”

The floodgates opened up in the third game of the series Sunday. After allowing 2 runs in the bottom of the second inning, the Cats could not cauterize the wound and stop the bleeding. They gave up 2 or more runs in seven consecutive innings, adding up to the ghastly final score of 22-1. Indiana’s offensive outburst led to more runs than the Cats have scored over their last 10 games combined.

Coach Spencer Allen said the performance spurred a “look in the mirror” type of day and that the series didn’t reflect the effort level or outcome the team was looking for.

“When we have opportunities, we have to take advantage of that,” Allen said. “(It’s) just about those guys being themselves and not trying to do too much.”

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