Baseball: Northwestern starts season on six-game losing streak


Daily file photo by Mika Ellison

Junior shortstop Tony Livermore stands in the batter’s box. The Wildcats started their 2023 season on a six-game losing streak.

Lucas Kim, Social Media Editor

Coach Jim Foster’s first games at the helm of a rebuilding Northwestern squad have not been ideal.

After beginning last season on a five-game losing streak, the Wildcats (0-6, 0-0 Big Ten) failed to take a step forward and are off to their worst six-game start since 2017.

After a forgettable first series against Texas State (4-2, 0-0 Sun Belt Conference) — in which the Cats were outscored 56-18 across three games — NU had three chances for redemption this past weekend to collect its first win of the Jim Foster era.

First on the weekend schedule was first-time opponent Gardner-Webb (4-4, 0-0 Big South).

Starting for NU was graduate student right-hander Michael Farinelli, who was coming off a loss against Texas State where he gave up four earned runs in four innings.

In Friday’s game, down one entering the fourth inning, senior first baseman Stephen Hrustich scored on a groundout to tie the game up.

However, the Runnin’ Bulldogs would take the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning with a solo homer off Farinelli. The right-hander exited the game having allowed three hits and two earned runs in four innings pitched.

NU tacked on one more run in the seventh on another groundout to make it 3-2, but it was not enough, as Gardner-Webb came away with the 6-2 victory.

By the end of the game, every NU batter was able to get on base, but Foster’s squad was not able to translate it into runs.

Graduate student right-hander Ethan Sund was one of the Cats’ lone standouts of the day, pitching two scoreless innings of relief and striking out four.

NU’s next opponent, Presbyterian (5-2, 0-0 Big South), was also an unfamiliar one. Unfortunately for the Cats, a hot fourth inning put Presbyterian up three runs — a lead that held for the rest of the outing.

Back-to-back doubles from graduate student outfielder Griffin Arnone and graduate student catcher Cooper Foard in the fifth inning cut the lead down to one, but nothing else came of it.

An insurance run from Presbyterian in the seventh put the game away for good, handing NU its fifth-straight loss.

Foard went 3-for-3 on the day with two extra base hits. Freshman left-hander Sam Garewal stood out in relief, allowing an earned run in 2.1 innings pitched with three strikeouts.

The Cats’ Sunday matchup against USC Upstate (6-2, 0-0 Big South) was perhaps their hardest of the weekend. The Spartans entered the weekend having won their first five games of the season — and they played like it on Sunday.

In just the first inning, USC Upstate batters loaded the bases on junior right-hander Luke Benneche and launched a grand slam to go up four. The Spartans went on to tally five more runs, including two more homers, to shut out NU 9-0.

On offense, the Cats only managed to pick up three hits. They were led by junior second baseman Vincent Bianchina, who got on base three times via a double and two walks.

With a three-game series against Louisiana Tech (4-3, 0-0 C-USA) next on deck, NU will have a chance to redeem its poor start to the season.

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Twitter: @lucaskim_15

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