Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Baseball: Arnone’s ‘micro changes’ lead to big game against Illinois State

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Graduate student outfielder Griffin Arnone celebrates after hitting a home run against Illinois State. Arnone went 2-4 with four RBIs and a home run Tuesday.

Last week, he was the 9-hole hitter, rounding out the order as an outfielder used primarily for his fielding.

This week, his bat came alive.

Graduate student outfielder Griffin Arnone went 2-of-4 with a home run and four RBIs Tuesday, the latest installment of a stretch of four games that has yielded seven RBIs.

Arnone — who before this weekend’s series at Illinois was batting .182 in April — broke out of his slump in Champaign, going 4-of-11 with three RBIs. And, Tuesday, he was perhaps one of the most integral pieces of Northwestern’s 7-6 victory over Illinois State.

“The season’s been a long chain of micro changes,” Arnone said. “Today I made a couple of changes, and it ended up working out.”

Early in the second inning, Arnone blooped a single to center to give the Wildcats (13-20, 2-10 Big Ten) a 2-1 lead over the Redbirds (20-18, 8-7 MVC).

After a fourth-inning flyout, Arnone stepped to the plate in the sixth frame with sophomore infielder Trent Liolios standing on first base and NU trailing 5-4. He racked up two strikes, fouled off a pitch, took a ball and then fouled another.

With the count at 1-2, Arnone saw a fastball belt-high, turned his plant foot and swung. The Illinois State outfielder, making a mad dash to the fence, was left deflated at the warning track as Arnone’s ball soared for a two-run home run to put the ’Cats ahead 6-5.

“We moved him up in the order based on his performance,” coach Ben Greenspan said. “Quite honestly, he came to the plate a couple of times today where, earlier in the season, we would have bunted with him … the way he’s been swinging the bat, we turned him loose.”

Arnone’s fielding ability — which has enabled him to start every game this season in the outfield — manifested in a clutch moment.

With Redbird runners on first and second and the game tied at 6-6 in the top of the ninth, Illinois State infielder Shai Robinson hit a ball deep to left-center field, almost in the same spot as Arnone’s blast a few innings prior.

Arnone bolted from his alignment in center field, extending fully with his glove outstretched. A somersault later, he picked up his glove to show the ball placed in the webbing, sending NU to bat with a chance to walk it off.

“(Arnone) staying present and making that catch was one of the biggest plays of the game,” Greenspan said.

The ’Cats won the game in walk-off fashion via a Liolios sacrifice fly in the 10th inning. Standing on the on-deck circle and one of the first to celebrate the victory was Arnone, who teammates call “Chief.”

Since April 14, Arnone has hit .400, driven in seven runs and smoked his first home run in over a month. The center fielder has demonstrated an ability to get on base in the past week.

“He works hard,” Greenspan said. “I’m happy for him to have the success he’s having … he’s playing really, really well on both sides of the baseball.”

As the ’Cats prepare for a matchup against Purdue at Wrigley Field on Friday, Arnone is buckled down and eager to continue making adjustments.

“I’ve just been able to put the ball in play really hard the past four or five games,” Arnone said. “I’m looking to keep that going.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @HenryFrieman

Related Stories:

Northwestern baseball beats Illinois State for the second time this season

All about Northwestern’s seven Wrigley Field trips

Baseball: Northwestern drops weekend sweep at Illinois

More to Discover