NKU baseball drops cold, snowy slugfest against Wright State on Saturday
Norse lost 14-11 to Raiders at Bill Aker Baseball Complex
March 26, 2022
It’s not often that teams play baseball in the snow, but that’s exactly what NKU and Horizon League rival Wright State were tasked with on Saturday; a 36 degree temperature at game time with nearly 20 mile per hour winds blowing out towards left field for the Horizon League’s coldest rivalry. And coming off of a tough loss against the Raiders, the Norse would have their work cut out for them.
But NKU head coach Dizzy Peyton wanted his team to fight through it. After all, baseball is an uncaring, unforgiving sport that has the weather way down on its list of concerns.
“We’re a gritty-type team anyways, so we needed to be in the moment and play it pitch-by-pitch as always,” Peyton said postgame.
So they played on, but the two teams would see the effects of the brutal weather early on. After kicking off the game with a strikeout and flyout, Norse starting pitcher Kyle Klingenbeck allowed a walk, an RBI double, and another walk before giving up a three-run home run to Raiders designated hitter Zane Harris that seemed like it was pushed over the left field fence.
The Norse would get two back off of a home run of their own by catcher Jayden Wakeham, another shot over the left field fence off of left-hander Sebastian Gongora, but Wright State kept throwing haymakers. The Raiders plated two more of their own in the top half of the second, one off of a double by Julian Greenwell and another on a single by Justin Riemer, and despite the Norse getting those runs back on groundouts by Mason Vorhees and Ryan Glass in the third, an RBI single by Sammy Sass would extend the Wright State lead to 7-4.
A chance for the Norse to potentially climb their way into the lead was blown in the bottom of the fourth when they left the bases loaded, and it would pay dividends for the Raiders. Bryson Lonsbury would come on to pitch for the Norse in the fifth, and after an error, a hit-by-pitch, and a bunt single to load the bases, Greenwell would come through again for Wright State with an RBI single through the right side, scoring one. The big blow came on a bases-clearing RBI double by Riemer, who ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly by Sass.
The Norse then turned into chip-away mode in the sixth after Tyler Murphy came on to pitch in the top half to shut down another Wright State rally with no damage done. They would load the bases once again, this time getting four runs off of a Brandon Tucker hit-by-pitch, a Treyvin Moss groundout to second, and a Vorhees double that would bring two in.
The Raiders would tally another run on the board on a Jay Luikart single in the top of the seventh, making it a 13-8 ballgame before the bottom half. A Brennan Gick double scored Michael Hall from first, and a John Odom single brought Gick around to chip the Wright State lead down once again.
Both teams would have a quiet top half of the eighth, but business would pick up in the ninth. Raiders third baseman Gehrig Anglin would hit a moonshot over the left field wall off of Norse righty T.J. Graves, following it up with a mighty bat flip. Gick would respond with an opposite field bomb in the bottom half, but that would be the last gasp for the Norse offense in a 14-11 loss.
Wakeham commented on the Norse’s ability to fight at the plate but acknowledged a flaw in the team’s two-strike approach that reared its head during the affair.
“It’s kind of hurt us a little bit recently,” Wakeham said. “We’re getting away from it here and there, but for the most part guys know what they should be doing, and it’s just a matter of putting the ball in play. If we can just lock it down a little bit better with two strikes, I think we’re getting real close to doing something good.”
The Raiders and Norse will conclude their Horizon League series on Sunday at noon at the Bill Aker Baseball Complex on what’s set to be another blustery day in Highland Heights. The game can be seen on ESPN+.