Baseball splits double-header, evens record

Tim Downer

The Northern Kentucky University baseball team needed extra innings to complete a split of their four-game weekend series against Great Lakes Valley Conference opponent, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville April 11 at Bill Aker Baseball Complex at Friendship Field with a 5-4 win.

Freshman Matt Wagers scored when Junior Keith Jackson’s groundball skipped past SIUE third baseman Wes Pickering in the bottom of the 10th inning.

The Norse were victims of misfortune early in the game. Many of the hitters made excellent contact. However, more often than not, the balls found SIUE outfielders perfectly postitioned to make the outs.

Freshman pitcher Matt Marksbury started the game and gave up four runs in the six innings he pitched.

SIUE had a big inning in the third after a Craig Ohlau double drove in a run. Ohlau scored on a two-out single by Pickering to put the Cougars ahead 3-0.

The Norse finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third with a Shaun Erie sacrifice fly, to bring the score to 3-1.

Bad luck fell upon the Norse in the sixth inning after third baseman Erie made an excellent play on a hard hit ball down the line by Kyle Martin, but a wild throw to first base allowed SIUE’s Robert Rahn to advance to third. An Eric Tritsch chopper hit up the middle plated the fourth run of the game for the Cougars.

The Norse bullpen stepped it up beginning in the seventh inning.

Senior pitcher Chad Anderson entered the game and retired all three SIU batters he faced.

Junior Justin Seiter entered the game for the Norse in the eighth, with runners on second and third and one out. Seiter was able to pitch out of the jam without giving up a run, by striking out Martin and Tritsch.

The NKU offense started its comeback in the eighth. After Erie walked to load the bases, pinch-hitter Justin Mundt hit a two-run single to right, cutting the SIUE lead to 4-3.

Luck seemed to be on the Norse’s side after the Mundt single. With one out, Mundt took off for second base, but appeared to be picked off by SIUE pitcher Pat Evers. After a throw over to first, it appeared Mundt would be caught in a rundown. SIUE first baseman Ohlau’s throw sailed over the shortstop Martin’s head, allowing Erie to score from third, tying the game at four runs each.

“We were just trying to steal a bag,” Coach Todd Asalon said. “[Mundt] was just going on first movement and whatever happens, happens at that point. We were just trying to get [SIUE] to move the ball a little bit.”

Seiter pitched two more excellent innings for the Norse, allowing only two SIUE base runners.

After Wagers walked to lead off the bottom of the tenth, he advanced to second base following an Erie sacrifice bunt. Wagers advance to third base after Mundt hit into a fielder’s choice, before ultimately scoring the game-winning run.

“We finally made some adjustments,” Asalon said. “They had a sinkerball pitcher. Once we found some success, our guys got a little confidence and started swinging the bats a little more aggressively and made something happen.”

Seiter was the winning pitcher, evening his record at 2-2 for the season. The win also brought NKU’s record back to .500, at 18-18, for the season, and in the GLVC at 11-11. The loss dropped SIUE to 12-24 for the season and 9-14 in the GLVC

Coach Asalon said the win, coming on the heels of a 5-0 loss earlier Sunday, was a big boost to the team.

“We’re trying to stay over .500, obviously,” Asalon said. “It was big. We were down 4-1 late, and getting worried a little bit. We didn’t want to lose a doubleheader at home. I think to rally like that, to come back and win, is going to be big for us.”

In the first game Sunday, the Norse managed only two hits. The loss dropped junior pitcher Rick Wood’s record to 4-3 for the season.

The Norse also split games with SIUE on April 10, losing 7-4 in the first game and winning 7-3 in the second.