Baseball: Wildcats facing one of the best pitchers in the country this weekend


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Ben Dickey slides safely into home. Dickey and the Wildcats travel to Durham this weekend.

Peter Warren, Web Editor


After starting the season with a 2-2 weekend in Arizona, Northwestern travels to Durham, North Carolina, to play interconference rival Duke in a three-game set.

Coach Spencer Allen said the Blue Devils and the Wildcats are the most comparable schools in the country due to their academic standards and lack of tradition. He added that their success in recent years is something NU (2-2) should emulate.

“They are the model that we want to try to follow,” Allen said. “Coach (Chris) Pollard has done a great job there, him and his staff, and definitely the model that we’re trying to follow and ultimately beat this weekend.”

Twelve different players earned a start in Arizona, but the four infield spots stayed consistent with senior first baseman Willie Bourbon, junior second baseman Alex Erro, senior shortstop Jack Dunn and junior third baseman Charlie Maxwell starting all four games.

Bourbon led the offense with five hits — including a moonshot — and six walks with Erro also adding six hits and a round-tripper of his own. Erro started all four games in the three-hole, and is set to be a mainstay at in the middle of the lineup.

“He’s got some power and the thing that I like about Alex is that he’s not one-dimensional,” Allen said. “Teams really tried to attack him away and he just took his base hits that way so that was something that was good. Then when you keep getting beat that way they try to come in and later in the series he hit the home run. He Is our best hitter.”

On the mound, the Cats are projected to start junior right-hander Hank Christie on Friday, junior lefty Sam Lawrence on Saturday and sophomore left-hander Quinn Lavelle on Sunday. All three were solid in their first starts of the season. They combined to throw 14.1 innings in the Copper State while giving up seven hits and allowing just one run.

Friday, Duke (4-0) will be throwing junior left-hander Graeme Stinson. According to both Baseball America and D1Baseball, Stinson is the No. 1 collegiate pitching prospect in the country. In addition to a very good fastball, Baseball America said his slider is one “some scouts label a grade higher at plus-plus.”

However, fellow junior lefty Adam Laskey — the other half of Duke’s one-two duo at the top of the rotation — is out with shoulder inflammation.

Last week, Stinson started opening day against Lehigh, and pitched well, striking out six and allowed only one hit. However, he only went three innings due to an innings limit.

Allen said the biggest thing is going to be taking advantage of positive counts against Stinson. The Cats did a good job of getting into those counts last weekend, Allen said, but were unable to capitalize.

Usually, Dunn said his approach to get his pitch and do damage with it. Against Stinson, he is not sure what he is going to be sitting on and looking to drive.

“Who knows?” Dunn said. “I’ll let you know later.”

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