Baseball team starts 0-5

The Northern Kentucky University’s Men’s Baseball team may have been picked to finish first in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, but they sure aren’t acting like it. The Norse’s season started with a five-game losing streak after they were swept in a two-day, three-game series by the defending Division II National Champions, Tampa University.

In the March 1 game, Tampa University jumped to an early one-run lead on NKU junior starting pitcher Sean Munninghoff and never looked back.

Tampa’s starting pitcher senior, Kevin Ferguson, pitched for six innings, allowing only two runs, one earned. He also struck out seven and only walked one, leading the Spartans to a 4-3 victory. Sophomore closer Anthony Perez produced his fifth save for Tampa.

In the second game, the Norse were the ones with the early lead, due to an RBI groundout by sophomore left-fielder Jason Cisper in the top of the first inning. Regrettably for the guys, NKU scored only one more run in the game while senior starting pitcher Cameron Betourne was roughed up for the second time in as many outings.

He yielded four runs and was unable to get out of the second inning. Starting pitcher Scott Chapman earned the complete-game victory for the Spartans.

In the final game March 2, the Norse seemed to be in control with a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, and sophomore starting pitcher Ryan Schmidt cruising.

Then it all went wrong. The Norse allowed six runs in the inning, including a grandslam by sophomore catcher Garrett Maines. The end result was a three-game crushing sweep of the Norse delivered by the Spartans as they displayed solid starting pitching and superior clutch hitting compared to NKU.

Five games into the season, this team undoubtedly has some problems. It has not pitched well, especially prized Southeastern Conference transfer, Cameron Betourne who is 0-2 and has the highest earned run average on the team, 16.20.

NKU has not provided much of an offense either, managing 13 runs in five games. First-team all-GLVC designated-hitter, Kevin Dusold, is expected to be one of the centerpieces of the offense according to head coach Todd Asalon, has managed just a .150 batting average, and only one extra-base hit.

The Norse have tripped up early and will need to right the ship soon, as they do not want a repeat of last season, when they stumbled to a 2-11 start, and battled to stay above .500 the rest of the season.

The good news is that none of these early troubles have affected their conference record. NKU’s next game is March 5 against Salem-International. They’ll begin GLVC play at Quincy, Ill., against Quincy University March 8 and 9.

The Norse begin play March 15 and 16 against Drury University at Champion Window Field in Florence, Ky., to open home schedule.