Northwestern cruised to victory against crosstown foe University of Illinois Chicago 8-2 on Thursday.
The Wildcats (4-6) started off the scoring with sophomore center fielder David Dunn’s two-run homer in the first frame, and kept up that fast pace. Junior right fielder Casey O’Laughlin added a third off a triple from first-year shortstop Evan Minarovic.
UIC homered in the third and scored another run in the fifth to close the gap to two, but a homer from senior left fielder Kyle Burnett Jr. in the sixth and a three-run seventh inning created a four-run deficit the Flames couldn’t come back from.
Senior pitcher Hank Christie made his first appearance on the mound Tuesday, pitching two scoreless innings before being pulled for first-year Jack Dyke. Dyke pitched the remaining seven innings and surrendered two runs on eight hits.
Tuesday was Dyke’s first credited win, and his third appearance as a reliever. He didn’t walk a single batter, and struck out six, a promising performance from a young player on a struggling NU baseball team.
One of the biggest offensive performers was first-year first baseman Stephen Hrustich, with two runs on two hits. Hrustich was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Feb. 24 after the Cats’ series against South Carolina, the first since Christie in 2017, and he continues to prove he is a strong hitter.
Sophomore designated hitter Jack Anderson also hit well against UIC. He batted in two runners on two hits for his most of the season so far.
After a poor batting performance in its series against South Florida, in which NU only scored seven total runs — and five of them came in the same game — the Cats’ rebound batting performance against UIC shows the potential the South Carolina series revealed.
NU faces Western Carolina and South Carolina-Upstate this upcoming weekend on the road before they return to play their first home game against Kent State on March 13.
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