Norse hold on to earn double header split with UIC


Colin Johnson

Trey Ganns underhands a ball to the pitcher covering first base.

Christopher Decker, Sports Editor

The NKU baseball team earned a double header split against the UIC Flames Sunday afternoon. The Norse improve to 15-24 and 8-8 in Horizon League play while UIC falls to just 28-9 and 15-3 in league play.

“I thought we played really well. We had our chances,” head coach Todd Asalon said. “Game two we bounced back. We played great defense and had clutch hitting.” 

The Norse will play the Louisville Cardinals in Louisville on Wednesday. The Cardinals are currently the second ranked team in the country. The Norse will then play Wright State at home for a weekend series with the Raiders. 

Game 1: NKU 2 UIC 5

The Norse struck first in the bottom of the first inning, when lead off man Jake Richmond crushed a home run to deep center field to put the Norse up 1-0.

Ganns faced the minimum amount of batters through three innings, but struggled in the fourth inning, walking the leadoff hitter Thomas Norton. Cody Bohanek then collected the first hit of the day for the Flames which scored Norton to tie the game at 1-1.

Ganns would settle down after that until the sixth inning, when he allowed a walk, a single and another walk to load the bases in the sixth inning. Ganns would get out of the inning unscathed, getting Scott Ota to fly out to center field to end the UIC threat. 

The Norse regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Dominic Mercurio hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Will Haueter.

The Flames struck again in the top of the seventh, when Brandon Gibis hit a line drive off the glove of first baseman Chad Roberts, who was playing on the infield grass, that scored Ricardo Ramirez to tie the game at 2-2.

Ganns would not return after the seventh, finishing the day with 7.0 innings pitched and allowed just four hits and two runs while striking out five hitters. Ganns would not factor into the decision. 

“It was good to see Trey out on the mound,” Asalon said. “He threw a gem against Ohio State and he threw another one today. We are looking for him to continue that next week.”

Cameron Ross entered the game and struggled in the eighth inning, allowing RBI singles to Calabrese and Bowen Ogata that scored three runs to give the Flames a 5-2 lead. 

The Norse managed to score a run in the bottom of the eighth. TJ Alas doubled to start the inning. That was followed by an RBI infield single by Mercurio that scored Alas and made the score 5-3.

The Norse threatened in the bottom of the ninth against closer Alex Padilla, with Mike Moffatt and Brad Bohlen reaching base with just one out. However, Richmond struck out and Alas flew out to center field to end the ball game.

Mitchell Schulewitz got the win for the Flames while Ross picks up the loss. Jack Andersen threw 6.0 innings of five hit two run baseball. 

Conor Ledger went 3-4 for the Norse at the plate while Brad Bohlen went 2-4.

Norton went 2-3 with two runs scored and two walks for the Flames while Calebrese went 1-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

Game 2: NKU 6 UIC 2

The Flames wasted no time jumping on starting pitcher Pat Kelley, scoring a run after three straight singled to give UIC a 1-0 lead. 

After allowing two singles to begin the second inning, the Norse pulled Kelley from the game and put Jordan Menfee on the mound. After allowing a runner to reach on a bunt, Menfee worked out of a bases loaded jam to keep the UIC lead at 1-0.

The Norse bats came alive in the bottom of the second, when Trey Ganns singled to right field. He would score on a ground ball from Mike Moffatt later in the inning to tie the game at one. Later in the inning, Chad Roberts singled to left on a 3-0 pitch to score Will Haueter and take a 2-1 lead.

UIC tied the game in the fourth inning, when Bohanek scored on a ground ball from Ota. 

Menfee exited the game in the sixth inning after allowing two base runners to reach, finishing with 4.1 innings pitched while allowing five hits, four walks and a run. 

“We put him in a tough situation today,” Asalon said. “He did a really nice job. His stuff is electric and it’s really tough to hit.”

The Norse took their largest lead of the day in the bottom of the sixth, when Mike Moffatt crushed a two-run home run to left field to give the Norse a 4-2 lead. 

“I knew what they were trying to do to Will and Dom (Mercurio) earlier. I was trying to look for that curveball,” Moffatt said. 

A Ledger single was followed by a Ganns double to begin the eighth inning that lead to a sacrifice fly from Mercurio to give NKU a 5-2 lead. Haueter then singled to score Ganns to give the Norse a 6-2 lead. 

Travis Rowland and Cameron Ross carried the Norse to victory from there, combining to throw 3.2 innings of three hit no run baseball. Rowland would get the victory from there.

Ganns went 3-4 with three runs scored and a couple of doubles, capping off a week where he hit .524 with seven doubles and three homeruns.

“I’m just trying to miss the pitch I want. Just telling myself not to miss the mistake pitch,” Ganns said. 

Haueter finishes the day 3-4 with an RBI and a run scored. 

Moffatt, along with the home run, made several outstanding defensive plays in center field to keep several potential Flames runs off the board.

“I’m just trying to do my job,” Moffatt said. “Center field was brand new to at the start of the season so it was just about getting more and more reps and you gain confidence and then you never look back.”

Calabrese went 3-5 at the plate while Ota went 3-5 with two RBI. The Flames stranded 17 runners on base while the Norse stranded just six.