Baseball: Northwestern cruises to victory against Milwaukee after a strong weekend


Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern

Graduate student Ruben Fontes swings at a pitch. Fontes hit a three-run homer in the second inning against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Aayushya Agarwal, Reporter


Hoping to build momentum off of a home victory early in the week, Northwestern (19-17, 6-6 Big Ten) hosted Michigan State (17-21, 3-9 Big Ten) for a three game series last weekend, with thunderstorms postponing Friday’s game and resulting in a Saturday doubleheader. 

Despite the schedule change, the Wildcats had a successful day, sweeping the doubleheader by a combined score of 18-3 against the Spartans. NU’s bats came out hot in the first game, putting up 14 runs, its second highest total of the season. 

The Cats led from the onset, courtesy of junior first baseman Stephen Hrustich’s three run homer in the bottom of the first. Hrustich’s three-run homer was his second in consecutive games. 

Interim head coach Josh Reynolds raved about Hrustich’s recent high level of play and the poise he has shown overcoming a sluggish start to the season. 

“When guys are competitors, they put a lot of pressure on themselves because of slow starts,” Reynolds said. “That was what he was doing. He’s always stayed confident in himself. He just had some approach and mechanical changes to make.”

Capped by freshman catcher Bennett Markinson’s grand slam, NU added seven runs in the fourth, propelling the team towards a comprehensive game one victory.  

Freshman left-handed pitcher Sean Sullivan did not allow the Spartans to make any comebacks. He pitched seven and two-thirds innings, allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts. The Cats ultimately cruised to a 14-2 victory on Saturday morning. 

NU also matched its morning success later in the afternoon. Graduate right hander Michael Farinelli led the Cats with a dominant performance, pitching eight and one-thirds innings of one run ball, allowing seven hits. 

On the offensive side of the ball, sophomore outfielder Ethan O’Donnell stood out with a pair of solo home runs. O’Donnell’s homers in the first and fourth were all NU needed to pull off the victory, coming out on top with a score of 4-1.

After having already taken the series against Michigan State, the Cats had the chance to sweep the set on Sunday. The Spartans, however, avenged their offensive struggles from Saturday and topped NU, 11-7. The Cats had a pair of two-run leads in the first and fourth, but Michigan State immediately responded, scoring four runs in the fifth and three runs in the seventh. 

After an inter-conference series victory, NU welcomed Milwaukee (14-21) for a lone Tuesday matinee matchup. 

Through explosive offense and dominant pitching, the Cats continued to see tremendous success. Similar to Saturday, NU was on top right away, thanks to graduate student outfielder Ruben Fontes’ three-run homer in the second. The Cats continued to extend their lead, adding one run each in the third and fourth innings. 

The pitching staff put in a true team effort. Six pitchers combined for a four-hit shutout, keeping Milwaukee in check throughout the game. NU capped off a complete 8-0 victory through the long ball, as Hrustich, who homered this past weekend, went deep again. 

Reynolds now has his sights on this weekend’s slate of games, hoping his team can continue playing up to its capabilities on the road. 

“We have talked all year long from the fall about just playing a better brand of baseball in all three phrases (pitching, hitting and fielding),” Reynolds said. “If we do all three phases and still get beat, it’s just baseball. That’s the game, you can’t guarantee a win.” 

The Cats will travel to College Park to play a three-game set against Maryland (33-8, 9-3 in Big Ten). 

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