With the help of a walk off home run, a complete game pitching performance, and a squeeze bunt, the Northern Kentucky University Baseball team won three of four games against in-state rival Bellarmine University in Great Lakes Valley Conference action April 4-5 at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex in Highland Heights, Ky.
The weekend series looked to not be so kind to the Norse (20-15, 9-7 GLVC) as Bellarmine (21-13, 10-6 GLVC) starting pitcher Michael Thompson bid for a no-hitter in Game 1 on April 4. But then junior Joe Mack stepped up to the plate to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning for NKU.
Mack battled Thompson through the first nine pitches of the at-bat until he got a pitch he liked and broke up the no-hitter with an opposite field home run.
‘I was just trying to stay on the ball a little bit better,’ Mack said. ‘I have been struggling a little bit this year with driving the ball, so it definitely felt good.’
Mack blasted another opposite field home run in the bottom of the seventh to give the Norse a two-run lead.’ Bellarmine’ would scoredtwo runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game at four and set up the heroics for Mack in the bottom of the ninth.
With a swing of the bat, Mack provided the Norse with the final 6-4 advantage and stepped into NKU history by becoming only the fourth baseball player to record three home runs in one game.
‘Joe Mack was super huge,’ said NKU Head Coach Todd Asalon.’ ‘He hit three home runs and one was a walk off.’ I mean it just doesn’t get any better than that.’
Sean Munninghoff pitched seven innings and allowed six hits, four runs and struck out seven Knight batters.’ Matt Winterhalter picked up the win in relief by hurling two scoreless innings.
Bellarmine took the second game of the April 4 doubleheader 9-6.
Game 1 of the April 5 contests saw Jarrett Casey take a perfect game into the fifth inning before giving up a leadoff home run to Bellarmine’s Nick Riganti.’ However, Casey was given a comfortable five-run lead as the Norse scored one in the first then four in the fourth inning.
The Norse went on to win the game 5-1 as Casey (2-2) hurled seven innings, giving up just one run on three hits and striking out 10.’ Perseverance was exactly what the Norse needed in Game 2, after Bellarmine built a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
NKU scored another run in the bottom of the eighth to cut the margin to 5-2, and then held to BU to a scoreless ninth.
Jeff Bohlen tied the game with an RBI single to score Mack. Colaner played the role of hero with an one-out squeeze bunt to score Pat Muth broke to win the game for NKU 6-5.
NKU will travel to Indianapolis April 10-11 to face the University of Indianapolis in a battle for the top spot in the GLVC East Division.