Baseball: Northwestern emerges victorious against Saint Louis Tuesday after a disappointing weekend


Daily file photo by Mika Ellison

Junior catcher/first baseman Stephen Hrustich stands in the batter’s box. Northwestern was victorious against Saint Louis on Tuesday after getting swept by Illinois over the weekend.

Aayushya Agarwal, Reporter


A disappointing weekend for Northwestern (16-16, 4-5 Big Ten) would be an understatement. The Wildcats dropped all three games in an away weekend series against Illinois, halting the momentum sparked in the games prior. Entering the weekend slate, NU had won 13 of its last 16 contests. The series against the Fighting Illini was the Cats’ second against Big Ten competition. 

The weekend started off promising, as sophomore infielder Jay Beshears hit a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth, to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead. But unfortunately for NU, costly errors and timely hits caused the game to quickly slip away, and the Illini walked it off to take the first game of the series. 

Sparked by a dramatic walk off the day prior, Illinois led from the onset of the second game, snagging a 3-0 advantage after the first inning. In the third, the Cats scrapped two runs but immediately gave them back in the bottom half of the inning. NU’s attempt of triggering a comeback in the 7th after junior catcher/first baseman Stephen Hrustich went deep was ultimately in vain. Illinois answered with three more runs in the bottom half of the inning. The Cats conceded three more runs in the final two frames, ultimately losing the second game 11-6. 

While already dropping the series, Sunday’s game offered NU a chance for a consolation prize. However, the Cats’ bats went cold, generating just three hits on zero runs, ultimately falling 3-0. 

The pitching was a bright spot, however. After two higher scoring games, NU’s relievers combined for four scoreless innings. Sophomore middle infielder Vincent Bianchina’s performance was another silver lining over the weekend, hitting .385 and accumulating 5 hits in the three game set. 

Led by an impressive 8-1 home record, the Cats hoped they could put the weekend’s results behind them and continue their high level of play at home.

NU welcomed Saint Louis (15-17) for a lone Tuesday matinee matchup to begin a five-game homestand. 

The Cats wasted no time getting back on the right page. NU quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second, when sophomore middle infielder Tony Livermore hit a clutch, two-out, two-run single. In the next bottom half inning, the Cats took advantage of the Billikens’ inability to find the strike zone by drawing four walks, which led to three more runs. 

In the bottom of the fourth, NU began using the long ball to further extend its lead to 8-1. Staying consistent with his performance this past weekend, Hrustich hit another homer, this time a three-run shot, which followed back-to-back singles. 

Saint Louis ended the game scoring four unanswered runs two-a-piece in the fifth and the eighth, but the Cats’ relievers steadied the comeback attempt for a 8-5 victory. 

NU now turns their sights to a home three game series against Michigan State (13-19, 1-7 Big Ten) with hopes of playing at the level of Tuesday’s performance. 

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