The Northern Illinois Huskies (10-28-1, 6-9 Mid-American Conference) have been a pleasant surprise to the baseball world this season. They were looking to pull off a series upset on their home ground. Central Michigan (25-15, 12-3 MAC) stood atop the MAC standings and knew this was not a series to be taken lightly, especially on the road.
Game 1: Central Michigan wins 3-2
Many consider Jordan Foley (5-2) the top Major League Baseball pitching prospect in the MAC, but that didn't scare the Huskies. Foley pitched well, but the Huskies actually outhit the Chippewas seven to six. Anthony Andres (3-5) matched Foley pitch for pitch throwing 143 pitches on the day (87 for strikes), while Foley tossed 135 of his own.
The Chips were able to jump out to an early 2-0 lead after loading the bases in the top of the first. An early threat, but Andres got himself out of the inning and keeping the game close while he was on the mound.
Huskies head coach Ed Mathey said in a release after the game, "This was a good college baseball game, we had a chance to tie it in the bottom of the ninth and had runners in scoring position in five of the last six innings but [Foley] was up to the task.
"Overall I'm disappointed with the loss but our effort was pretty solid. We had some opportunities today. You hate to pin it on one play in the game but if we make a play on the bunt in the first inning, this game is a lot different."
The Huskies played their hearts out, and it was difficult to see anybody lose this game. Foley tossed a complete game for the Chips, while Andres tossed seven strong innings in a tough luck loss.
Game 2: Central Michigan wins 5-3
The Huskies were sending their worst statistical starter to the bump in game 2, but he gave his team every opportunity possible to pick up the victory.
The Huskies jumped out in front first in this one with a single by Alex Klonowski to drive in a run. The lead didn't last long as the Chips were able to tie it up in the top of the second inning. Regaining the lead in the fifth, the Huskies were back in charge, but again the lead wouldn't last long as the Chips were able to tie it up and eventually take the lead in the top of the sixth. The Huskies would eventually drop the game 5-3 giving up two runs in the top of the ninth inning. The Huskies tried to rally late loading up the bases with 2 outs, but Chips closer Tim Black would get out of the inning unscathed to preserve the win for the CMU.
Game 3: Northern Illinois wins 3-1
Klonowski (2-4) tossed a complete game in the series finale, while he saw his team take the lead in the sixth and never looked back.After hitting two batters in the sixth Klonowski found himself in some trouble, but a key double play would get him out of the inning. Klonowski ended the day giving up seven hits and striking out four.
Also throwing a complete game, Nick Deeg (3-4) was handed the loss, allowing only three runs on seven hits while also striking out four.
Speaking with reporters after the game Head Coach Ed Mathey had this to say once the series was over. "We executed for the entire game and obviously Alex helped out on the mound, but our defense really helped. We turned an absolutely huge double play in the sixth inning with good guy running the line," said Head Coach Mathey. "We had a couple offensive situations that we took advantage of and that's something we hadn't gotten a lot of earlier this series."
The series win keeps Central Michigan at the top of the MAC standings, but Ball State continues to stick around staying only a half game behind. Central Michigan will prepare for that series in what will be the MAC matchup of the week without a doubt. The series winner will sit on top of the MAC West standings.
For the Huskies, despite the 10-28 overall record are standing in 4th place in the MAC West standings because of their strong 6-9 in conference record. They will look to take on Western Michigan next weekend in Kalamazoo.