Baseball: Northwestern prepares to face Big Ten’s top pitching team Indiana in second series of six-game homestand at Miller Park

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Daily file photo by Peter Warren

Michael Trautwein readies for the pitch. The junior catcher leads the team in RBIs this season with 24.

Lawrence Price, Reporter


Baseball


Dropping two out of the three games last weekend to Rutgers, Northwestern is looking to return to the win column as the team prepares to face off against Indiana this weekend with another home series at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park.

The Wildcats (11-10, 11-10 Big Ten) came out the gate hot to start the season. The team went 7-4 in its first three series, but has now lost some momentum going 4-6 in the last ten series. They are currently tied for seventh with Michigan State in the Big Ten —a team they beat in a 3-1 series back in March. 

Now, with the No. 3 Hoosiers (13-7, 13-7 Big Ten) coming to town, NU needs to find a way to bounce back, and quickly.

“We have kind of been on a stretch here, and I think that everyone understands in baseball that that can happen,” coach Spencer Allen said. “We have beat Michigan, we have beat some of the top teams when we play well.”

The record might not display it, but Allen is right. Currently in the Big Ten, the Cats rank third in batting average (.280), second in hits (205) and first in homeruns (45) — 13 more than Nebraska who is currently in second place.

“It gives you a lot of confidence as a pitcher, knowing that you don’t have to necessarily throw a shutout to win the game,” senior pitcher Quinn Lavelle said. “With our lineup, three or four runs in a few innings is going to get the job done as far as the offense is concerned because you know that they are going to put up runs.”

NU has had multiple players step up at the plate this season, including junior shortstop Shawn Goosenberg. The left half of the up-the-middle duo was announced Big Ten Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks after hitting .533 with four home runs, including a walk-off dinger during Friday’s game against Rutgers. 

“He is the best hitter I have ever coached,” Allen said. “The fact that he’s got such a big belief in big moments, too, is really fun to watch.”

 Aside from Goosenberg, the Cats’ lineup has emerged as one of the best and hardest to face for most pitchers. 

But Indiana’s pitching unit may be a force to be reckoned with, as the Hoosiers lead the conference in ERAs, hits and runs. Ace pitcher Mccade Brown had a 2.18 ERA in the last 10 games while the group held a 3.70 ERA, despite going 5-5.

 The Wildcats will have their work cut out for them this weekend as the team’s dynamic lineup faces a serious obstacle from the mound. After the Indiana series this week, NU will face the No. 2 Wolverines in two weeks, and No. 1 Nebraska in a month.

“I think playing clean baseball as a whole offensively and defensively,” Lavelle said. “I think it is just a matter of getting those two connected and just putting together a series where, defensively, pitching wise, and hitting, is all clicking and we can figure it out kind of put together a hot streak as a team.”

 

Email: [email protected]orthwestern.edu 

Twitter: @LPIII_TRES

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