Hitting woes continue for NKU

The struggles continue for the Northern Kentucky University’s Baseball Team, losing two of three from the Screaming Eagles of Southern Indiana University, over the weekend, at Champion Window Field.

The season has started out as a dismal year for the Norse. Its record of 3-11 coming into the weekend, had them in 10th place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. NKU was picked to win the GLVC Conference Title this season, but the teams early struggles found them digging a deep hole.

“We haven’t had timely hitting and our offense isn’t producing,” said Head Coach Todd Asalon. “Our pitching, defense and offense need to come as one.”

In Game 1 of the three-game series between the Norse and the Screaming Eagles, the day looked promising for NKU to get out of the losing slump.

Norse starting pitcher Matt Marksbury, who was named the GLVC Pitcher of the Week Honor, pitched a remarkable game. He hurled a complete game shutout of SIU, winning 2-0. The Eagles were able to get four hits off of Marksbury, but unable to produce when the opportunities came for SIU.

Marksbury improved to a 3-0 record on the season and is looking like the ace of the staff. When asked about the game, had few words to describe the action. “I threw lots of fastballs, but didn’t get ahead of many of the batters,” he said. “I just got the outs when I needed them.”

Left-fielder Jake Shaffer helped snap a scoreless game for the Norse, with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth, driving in centerfielder Kenny Wilson. Designated hitter Kevin Dusold added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to drive Shaffer in.

Game 2 was a different story for NKU.

Southern Indiana jumped all over Norse starting pitcher Josh Bruns in the fifth inning, scoring six runs. Bruns pitched four plus innings, giving up six runs, five earned, four hits, walking four, striking out five on the day.

Eagles second baseman Darin Mastroianni plated in two runs in the fifth on a single. Mastroianni had a superb game going 4-for-5 in the game.

The struggles continued for the Norse on Mar. 1, but in Game 3 the pitching wasn’t what got them. NKU’s hitting was a pivotal factor in the 5-2 loss to SIU.

Norse starting pitcher Nathan Jones had the scouts watching at Champion Window Field. Jones looked impressive early on as he held the Eagles scoreless for the first three innings.

In the third inning however, a screaming line drive back up the middle, hit off of Jones’ fingers. “The ball came up and jammed my finger, trying to field the ball, ” Jones commented on his outing. “After that ball hit me, I couldn’t handle the ball, was unable to have control of my curveball and change-up.”

Jones and the Norse were able to get out of the inning, but the following inning became a test for NKU.

The fourth inning was a crucial part for Jones, after walking the first batter, he seemed to settle down getting Mastroianni and Josh Malone of SIU to fly out. Then the ball seemed to bounce on the other side. He walked Chad Werry, followed by a wild pitch, advancing the runners. Eagles catcher Garret Oros lined a single up the middle scoring two runners. The next batter, Jones settled down and got Alex Theiroff to line out to the first baseman.

When asked about what got him out of the struggle in the fourth, Jones remarked about his calmness. “It’s all about calming down, not to worry,” Jones said. “Get first strikes and go from there.”

Offensive struggles continued for the Norse, as they were not able to take advantage of the bases loaded. “We had the bases loaded twice and were not able to come through,” Asalon said. “Our pitching was OK today, we walked five batters, but we don’t cash in on hitting opportunities when the time is there.”

Southern Indiana took advantage of the five walks issued by NKU pitchers and added the core on the board, as they went ahead of the Norse 5-2. The sixth inning looked promising for NKU, but as Coach Asalon said, the Norse couldn’t “cash” in on the opportunities. NKU had the chance to knock in runs, but it ended in double-play fashion.

The final outcome was a loss for the Norse as the team has dropped to a record of 4-13 overall and 3-4 in GLVC play.

Upcoming games for NKU are this upcoming weekend, Mar. 23 thru the 25, as the Norse take on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in a four-game series, with the first game starting Mar. 23 at 7p.m.