The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

Cold bats, mental mistakes cost Norse in loss to Morehead State

March 29, 2022

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Emory Davis

NKU freshman pitcher Kaden Echeman gets set on the mound against Wright State.

The hottest offense in the Horizon League went cold on Tuesday, as despite leading the conference in batting average, hits, and doubles, the NKU baseball team were held to two runs as they dropped an afternoon matchup against the Eagles of Morehead State by a score of 4-2.

Tyler Murphy took the mound as the starter for the Norse, going two full innings of hitless baseball while earning a strikeout in the process. Murphy said postgame that he leaned heavily on his fastball in the zone to get through the heart of the Eagles’ order.

“If we give ourselves the best opportunity to compete, we’ll obviously get the pitching results we’ll want,” Murphy said of his performance and the pitching staff’s mentality.

NKU would capitalize on Murphy’s start, as after walking and stealing a base with two outs in the inning, Griffin Kain would score on a Liam McFadden-Ackman single through the left side of the infield. McFadden-Ackman would be retired when John Odom grounded into a fielder’s choice, stranding a runner.

The Eagles would strike back in the top of the third when center fielder Ryley Preece doubled to left center field off of Norse right hander T.J. Graves, bringing catcher Brody Shoupe around from first to score. Preece would advance to third on the throw in to the infield, and after first baseman Jackson Feltner was hit by a pitch, the Eagles would execute a double steal to perfection and take a 2-1 lead.

Controversy was stirred in the bottom of the fourth, as home plate umpire Jay Myers called a strike on a pitch to McFadden-Ackman that appeared to be low. Words were exchanged between Myers and the Norse bench, with warnings being handed out when the dust cleared.

It wouldn’t be the last time during the afternoon that the judgment of the men in blue would come into question; with Odom on first, Norse catcher Zack Minton bunted a ball down the first base line that was fielded by Eagles pitcher Trevor Callahan. While attempting to tag Minton, Callahan tripped and fell face-first into the turf and the umpires ruled the runner safe at first. After inquiry by the Morehead State coaching staff, the umpires converged to determine whether or not the right call was made, with the original call being upheld.

The call would prove to be costly for the Eagles, as Treyvin Moss would follow that up with a bunt single of his own. MSU third baseman Nick Gooden would make an errant throw that allowed Odom to score, knotting the game at two.

Morehead State would find their way back into the driver’s seat, however. An infield single by Preece and a throwing error by Odom would set up a first and third situation for the Eagles, and left fielder Alex Jacobs cashed in on a RBI single off of Norse lefty Blaine Walters.

Baserunning mistakes would cost NKU in the bottom half, as an errant pickoff attempt by Jarrett Miller would see Brandon Tucker take second and attempt to third. Hesitating around second base, Tucker was thrown out after a strong throw by Eagles right fielder Chase Vinson.

After replacing Walters, Norse reliever Andrew Mulhern would find himself in a jam with yet another first and third situation created by the Eagles. A passed ball off the glove of Minton would create a two-run ballgame and a deficit the Norse ultimately wouldn’t overcome.

Head coach Dizzy Peyton said that the pitching staff’s performance overall was a welcome sight after the struggles that were seen during last weekend’s series against Wright State.

“Obviously Murphy and the pitching staff did a great job today,” Peyton said. “We bounced back from a rough weekend, so it was nice to see.”

The Norse will travel to Milwaukee this weekend to take on the Panthers in a Horizon League weekend series. Game one is set for Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

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