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: Northwestern beats Illinois State for the second time this season

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Junior catcher Bennett Markinson celebrates scoring the winning run against Illinois State. Northwestern won the midweek game 7-6.

Coming off of an 0-3 weekend against Illinois, Northwestern faced another in-state foe — Illinois State — Tuesday.

In a 10-inning thriller at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park, the Wildcats (13-23, 2-10 Big Ten) defeated the Redbirds (20-18, 8-7 MVC) 7-6 off sophomore infielder Trent Liolios’ walk-off sacrifice fly.

The victory marked NU’s second win over Illinois State this season, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing as the ’Cats found themselves down through the fifth inning.

“(It comes down to) staying present regardless of the score,” coach Ben Greenspan said. “That’s what we are trying to preach, and I think the guys for the most part have embodied that.”

Graduate student pitcher Jack Dyke, who picked up two innings of work in the first game against the Redbirds, got the start for NU.

Dyke escaped the first inning scoreless despite allowing a few baserunners, but Illinois State opened the scoring in the top of the second inning. Shai Robinson hit a solo blast to left field in the first at-bat of the inning.

The ’Cats generated a quick response in the bottom half of the inning. Five consecutive NU batters reached base to start the inning. Markinson reached on a throwing error and moved to third after a Liolios bomb ricocheted off the wall in left-center. Clutch hitting by graduate student outfielder Griffin Arnone brought the pair home to give the ’Cats a 2-1 lead.

Senior infielder Vince Bianchina and sophomore outfielder Marty Kaplan also reached base, and the two were brought home by way of a Tony Livermore groundout and a Preston Knott flyout to increase the lead to three.

After walking the first runner of the third inning, a combination of fastballs and offspeed pitches helped Dyke earn consecutive strikeouts and work his second scoreless inning.

The Redbirds jumped on NU in the fourth and fifth innings. Catcher Daniel Contreras knocked a ball just over the outstretched hand of Bianchina to bring home Robinson to cut the lead to two in the fourth.

Senior right-hander Luke Benneche took over on the mound for the ’Cats in the fifth inning and subsequently allowed three runs.

Redbird Outfielder Luke Stulga and first baseman Judah Morris started the rally with a double and a walk, respectively.

Infielder Noah Rabin scored the two runners in the next at-bat with a single to left field that allowed him to reach third courtesy of a couple NU errors. While infielder Shaydon Kubo grounded out to bring Rabin home, Benneche stymied the next two hitters to get out of the inning.

After a silent bottom of the frame, the ’Cats retook the lead in the sixth inning. Liolios walked to begin the inning, and Arnone continued his solid day at the plate, picking up his third and fourth RBIs of the game on a go-ahead home run to left field making it 6-5.

“Today I was seeing the ball well, even in (batting practice I) was just working on the little cues that I’ve been trying to implement,” Arnone said.

The Redbirds went silent in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings thanks to a rebound by Benneche, who pitched three scoreless innings after allowing three runs in the fifth.

“He missed an 0-2 pitch, and the kid hit a ground ball to second, but after that I thought he settled in and was really good,” Greenspan said. “I want him to take over those middle innings of the game, and I thought he pitched well enough to do it.”

Senior right-hander Matt McClure then took the mound to start the ninth. Just a strike away from ending the game, McClure allowed a Kubo single to center field to score the tying run.

The Redbirds gave NU another scare when Robinson unleashed a ball to left-center field, but Arnone made a diving catch to get to the bottom of the frame.

“He really ripped it, so I knew I had to get on my horse right away,” Arnone said. “I just made my route and sprinted, took probably three or four hard steps without looking at the ball, and then I turned around, and it was just right there for me.”

Knott worked a walk to get on base in the ninth, but he could not find any support, and the game needed extra innings to decide a winner.

McClure made light work of the Illinois State hitters, retiring the side in order to end the top of the frame.

And that’s all the ’Cats needed.

The Redbirds only faced two batters in the bottom of the 10th thanks to clutch hitting by Markinson and Liolios. Markinson began the inning by driving a ball to right-center field, earning a triple and a prime opportunity for NU to put the game away.

Looking to drive Markinson home, Liolios lined a ball to right field. The hit left enough time for Markinson to tag up and score, winning the game in extra innings.

The ’Cats will look to continue their momentum this weekend when they take on Purdue at Wrigley Field on Friday to kickoff their weekend series.

“I hope we learn from our mistakes defensively and play better there — I think we’ve prided ourselves on being a really good fundamentally defensive sound team,” Greenspan said. 

Email: [email protected]

X: @adub_sports

Related Stories:

Northwestern baseball falls in sweep to Illinois

Northwestern Baseball takes series over Maryland

Northwestern baseball loses to UIC 18-5

More to Discover