Baseball: Wildcats lose mid-week tilt with Milwaukee


Daily file photo by David Lee

Casey O’Laughlin watches a hit. The freshman right fielder hit a game-tying double in the eighth inning Wednesday, but the Wildcats allowed 2 runs in the ninth to fall 6-4.

Peter Warren, Assistant Sports Editor


After tying Tuesday’s game in the bottom of the eighth inning to complete a comeback that took 36 plate appearances, Northwestern had some momentum on its side heading into the final frame.

But that momentum, as it has been often this season, was short-lived. Visiting Milwaukee promptly scored 2 runs in the ninth and handed the Wildcats (9-21, 1-11 Big Ten) a 6-4 defeat.

The first two Panthers (12-18, 6-6 Horizon) batters in the inning — Tyler Bordner and Joe Vyskocil — reached on a single and walk and then advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt. The fourth batter, Matt Quartel, lined out to sophomore second baseman Alex Erro for the second out of the inning.

During the next at-bat, senior pitcher Richard Fordon threw a wild pitch past senior catcher Jack Claeys that hit the backstop and scored Bordner from third. Then, pinch runner Joey Scaffidi stole home to double the Milwaukee lead.

“We have to get that leadoff out,” coach Spencer Allen said. “If you look at any late-innings rallies, it usually starts with a hit-by-pitch, a walk or a non-play. That’s what we had. We had the non-play followed by a walk.”

Freshman right fielder Casey O’Laughlin had equalized the game with a two-out double in the eighth. O’Laughlin, who had not hit a double all season, roped a pitch into the right-centerfield gap and senior designated hitter Connor Lind managed to score from first without a throw.

“I was just trying to see a pitch up,” O’Laughlin said. “I tried to get a good swing on the ball and luckily it found the gap.”

Milwaukee scored all four of its runs in the first inning the same way: singles through the five-six hole in the infield. Ben Chally and Bordner both hit singles that scored one run, while Oakland Scanlan hit a grounder that just got past a diving Jack Dunn to score two Panthers.

The Cats got back into the game in the third inning with 3 runs as the Panther defense struggled to make plays. First, after junior center fielder Ben Dickey and O’Laughlin reached base, pitcher Elijah Goodman made a poor throw to first on a Dunn bunt, scoring Dickey.

The lead was then cut to two when Claeys singled in O’Laughlin. Then, junior first baseman Willie Bourbon hit a ground ball to Scanlan at first. Scanlan made a bad toss to Goodman, scoring Dunn.

For the second week in a row, NU used a bullpenning strategy for its midweek game, with sophomore starter Matt Gannon only pitching an inning and junior reliever Tyler Lass the only pitcher who threw more than one inning.

Seven pitchers — seniors Tommy Bordignon and Fordon; juniors Danny Katz and Lass; sophomores Josh Levy and Sam Lawrence; and freshman Ryan Bader — made appearances out of the pen. The relief corps combined to give up only three hits, two walks and two hit-by-pitches.

“(We were) really just attacking with the fastball, getting ahead and being able to throw that second pitch for a strike,” Bordignon said. “That’s why people were so successful, just attacking zone, not really walking any guys and being aggressive.”

The loss extends the Cats’ losing streak to four games and their record in April to 1-8. During this month, the team has scored only 16 runs while giving up 66.

NU’s struggles have not been contained just to the month of April. Since defeating Central Michigan on March 17, the Cats have won just twice.

“We are not playing competitive baseball right now,” Allen said. “We show moments, but we have to be ready to go. We have to play a full nine innings.”

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