Norse end 3 game skid with win against Northwestern

Christopher Decker, Assistant Sports Editor

The Northern Kentucky University baseball team beat Northwestern University 7-1 Tuesday at Bill Aker Baseball Complex, ending a three game losing streak.

The Norse improve to 7-13 on the season while Northwestern falls to 5-15.

“We did a nice job especially off a tough weekend,” Head Coach Todd Asalon said. “I’m really proud of the guys. We could have gone either way. We could have come out flat but we came out and made amends for last weekend.”

The Norse managed to put together a complete game, hitting .382 while the pitching staff only allowed 3 hits in the game and shut down a Wildcat offense that leads the Big Ten in hitting.

Freshman Matt Ianni shined in his first collegiate start for the Norse. After giving up a run in the first inning, Ianni recovered nicely, only giving up that one run on 2 hits while striking out 5 in 4 innings of work.  

“Matt came in throwing strikes and then Nick came in and was lights out,” Asalon said.

Nick Beard came in for Ianni in the 5th inning and was very efficient, only throwing 54 pitches and giving up a hit and no runs. He worked quickly through hitters and threw 30 strikes in the game.

“I’ve been focused on throwing strikes and letting batters get themselves out,” Beard said after the game. “If your offense is alive then the defense will be alive too and that helps you as a pitcher.”

The Norse offense was certainly alive today, racking up 13 hits and 3 doubles while only striking out 3 times. Six out of nine Norse batters recorded a hit.

“We can’t be happy with just a 2 or 3 run lead. When we get a lead we have to stay in the game,” Asalon said. “It was nice to get a couple big innings today.”

First basemen Trey Ganns did the majority of the damage for the Norse. Ganns, who had only been hitting .254 with 7 RBI, went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored in the game.

“It feels great. When you go through little skids you have to be a better teammate,” Ganns said. “I’ve just been trying to get back to what I was doing last year.”

Second basemen Kyle Colletta also had a big day, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored while Dominic Mercurio had 2 RBI on one hit and a groundout. Anthony Vagnier contributed with one of his best games of the season as well, going 2 for 4 with one run scored.

The Norse took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second, when the Mercurio knocked in third basemen Mike Moffatt from third. The Norse did not score again until the 5th inning, when Colletta singled to left to bring in Vagnier from second base. Will Haueter then singled to make it first and third for Ganns, who then sliced a double down the left field line to score both runners, making the score 5-1.

The Norse added some insurance runs in the 8th, when Spurlin singled in Ganns. Mercurio then singled to center field, scoring Spurlin and putting the game out of reach at 7-1.

This was an important game for the Norse, who were blown out on Sunday and were swept in their first ever Horizon League series.

“We had an early morning practice yesterday to get refocused,” Coach Asalon said. “This gives us some confidence. We got back to doing the little things. We had good energy and our bench was good. When your pitching dominates it makes it so much easier.”

The Norse will need to take this momentum into their next Horizon League series against Oakland, which starts Thursday afternoon and ends on Saturday, weather permitting. Oakland is currently 4th in the Horizon League standings and is second in the league with a 4.53 ERA, while the Norse are second best in the league in team hitting with a .272 average.