YPSILANTI, Mich. —- The coziest corner in the Mid-American Conference witnessed a pretty good baseball game Friday night between Eastern Michigan University and Northern Illinois University – an old fashion pitching duel.
This weekend series May 6-9, 2011 is the beginning of the home stretch drive in the Mid-American Conference and there are still plenty of teams jockeying for tournament position unfortunately for the Eagles dropping the open to the Huskies 4-3 just did not help Eastern Michigan University title hopes.
“I told them that we played an outstanding game, he just did not get hit like we normally do!” Eastern Michigan University baseball coach said after the game to his team. “And I said that is why we lost; we just got keep trusting each other and believing that we can play.”
Eastern Michigan University left too many runners in scoring position, they left eight runners on base but the Eagles left the bases loaded in the third and fifth inning.
Alexander thought the absent of offense production of any kind from the middle of the line up did not help the Eagles and that he is expecting that to change before Saturday afternoon’s game.
“When you get a zero out of your five and six guys and your five guy used to be you three-hole hitter and not even a good swing between the two of them you do not stand a chance to win,” Alexander said. “Our number four hitter hit the ball hard and did not get a hit, somebody got to get a hit, we did not do enough on the offensive side and that is the bottom line.”
The lack of offense did not worry Eastern Michigan University starting pitcher Robert Wendzicki, he worked hard and at times he struggled but he continued in trusting his catcher and in his command of his pitches and worked eight innings and scattered 13 hits including two home runs to the Huskies designated hitter Jeff Zimmerman.
Alexander would have like a better outcome for Wendzicki and of his first class performance.
“Phenomenal!” Alexander said about Wendzicki. “He did not have his command earlier so he had other pitches that he used and tried to get a head and he did a great job of that and he battled. The only sorry thing is that he did not get the win.”
“We knew coming in here that Eastern Michigan is a good ball club and they played though and they always have played though at least with us,” Northern Illinois University baseball coach Ed Mathey said after the game in front of the dugout. “We had some early chances and there pitcher did a nice job. He did a great job of limiting damage and he gave them a heck of an effort.”
The Huskies starting pitcher Zach Oats stands 6-7 and his fastball come from over the top and it has some darting action but he also has a biting breaking pitch that caught the Eagles back on their collective heels.
Oats worked eight innings for the Huskies and only allowed seven hits while striking out eight before he released the ball to Huskies relief pitcher Kyle Glancy who recorded his ninth save of the season.
“He is our lead guy, he is the captain and he is our leader he has put in a lot of work. We probably stretched him out today,” Mathey said about Oats’ pitching performance. “That is the high the number of pitches that I have done it but he was throwing pretty good out there and these guys are a pretty good offense team and we needed every inning from him.”
Mathey describes his team as a veteran ball club and is looking to get something positive completed.
“We had some struggles this year; there is no doubt about it, trying to find our identity. We started out 0-10, we played a great schedule early but we have come back at one point we were 20-18 so we ran off a 20-8 streak,” Mathey said. “It takes some mental toughness. We have a veteran team, these guys have been out here for a while and they want to do some things.”
The Huskies scored the winning run in the top of the ninth inning when Wendzicki gave up a base hit to Huskies center fielder and leadoff batter Jamison Wells and Alexander replaced Wendzicki with Kristian Calibuso.
Wells moved to second base on a successful sacrifice laid down by Northern Illinois left fielder Cory Krupp setting the stage for shortstop Alex Jones. With one out Jones took a Calibuso fastball and hit a solid line drive into left field scoring Wells from second base.
The Eagles did provided entertainment in the bottom of the ninth and giving the Eagle fans something to rise to their feet and watched, as a fly ball off of the bat of Eagles right fielder Ken Battiston looked like it was going to get over the right field fence but the ball fell into the glove of Jake Hermsen for the second out of the inning.
“It is hard to get win in this league and on our side it comes down to doing the right things all of the time,” Alexander said. ‘It’s been that way since I got in here.”
The curtain will rise Saturday afternoon at Oestrike Stadium with a 3 p.m. start and Eastern Michigan University will be taking center stage and will be looking to bring down the house with a win against Northern Illinois University keeping the Mid-American Conference West Division title drive alive – with an old fashion victory.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.