Norse dominate from the hill

Aided by two masterful pitching performances on March 27, the Northern Kentucky University baseball team swept a double-header from conference-rival Saint Joseph’s College, 9-2 and 5-1.

Dave Middendorf (5-1) hurled seven innings allow- ing just one unearned run and one walk while striking out 11 Puma batters. The 11 strikeouts marked the third consecutive game in which he tossed more than 10 strikeouts and now he leads the team with 51 strikeouts, according to the NKU Athletics Web site.

For his efforts, Middendorf was awarded the Great Lakes Valley Conference Baseball Pitcher of the Week on March 29, which marked the second time he has won the honor this season.

In game two, Brandon Slusher tossed six innings of the scheduled seven inning game. Slusher gave up just two hits, one unearned run and one walk and added four strikeouts.

NKU (20-7, 9-1 GLVC) started the first game on a hot streak plating two runs in each of the first three innings to take an early 6-0 lead. Bryan Rose led the Norse in the first three innings with two doubles and a single to go along with two runs scored and two RBIs. Five of NKU’s 11 hits for the game would go for doubles as the Norse peppered the St. Joseph’s pitching staff all game long.

The Norse scored three more runs in the sixth inning to take a comfortable 9-1 lead before posting a 9-2 victory. Jeff Bohlen and Brian Erie highlighted the sixth inning with back-to-back two-out RBI doubles.

Freshman reliever Blake Bagshaw came in to pitch the final two innings allowing three hits, one earned run while striking out two.

Game two started off in the same fashion as the first game as NKU scored two runs on two doubles.

Jason Cisper led off the first inning with his 14th double of the season. With Cisper at third and Patrick Muth on first, Evan McDole slapped a double to left field to plate both runners and give NKU the early 2-0 lead.

The Norse pushed across a run in the third and two more in the fourth for a 5-0 lead, which was all starting pitcher Slusher (2-0) would need. Slusher’s attempt at a perfect game ended in the top of the fourth inning when Joe Dispense singled to left field.

Kevin Jordan came in and pitched a perfect seventh inning as NKU defeated St. Joseph’s 5-1. Cisper, a senior outfielder, ended the day by going 5-for-9 with two doubles, with four runs scored and one RBI.

Cisper, who is on pace to collect 99 hits on the season, has hit safely in 24 of the 25 games he’s played this season.

McDole, a senior first baseman, ended the day by going 4-for-7 with a double, with two runs scored and four RBIs to help the Norse gain sole possession of first place in the GLVC East Division.

The two teams were only able to play the first two games of the weekend series as heavy rainfall late Saturday and early Sunday washed out the last day of competition. The games have been rescheduled for April 5.

NKU pounded out 19 hits on Tuesday afternoon en route to a 21-2 whitewashing of Urbana University in non-conference action. Urbana is in the second year of transitioning to NCAA Division II status.

Cisper feasted on the Blue Knight pitching as he posted a 4-for-4 performance with a double, four runs scored and three RBIs.

McDole connected on a two-run homer in the fourth inning and added another hit for a 2-for-3 outing with five RBIs. Josh Blaum got the spot start on the mound for the Norse and went four innings and collected six strikeouts in picking up his first win of the season. Head Coach Todd Asalon used the game to get his relievers some much needed action as he used six pitchers throughout the nine inning game.

NKU began the week on March 24 by traveling to Ohio Dominican. The Norse took the first game of the doubleheader 8-1 before dropping the second game 5-1.

The Norse will be back in action this weekend when they travel to Romeoville, Ill., to take on Lewis University on Friday and Saturday. First pitch for both days will be 1 p.m. NKU will then begin a 16-game homestand on April 5 as they attempt to make up the rained-out doubleheader against St. Joseph’s.

Story by Chad Hensley