Northern Illinois Edges Milwaukee Baseball Team, 5-3
April 1, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - Junior Tim Patzman hit a seventh-inning home run to bring the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee baseball team within a run, but Northern Illinois University added an insurance run in the eighth inning and went on to the 5-3 victory Wednesday afternoon at McKinzie Field. The Panthers (5-16) outhit the Huskies (11-14) by a count of 11-to-7 on the day, but could not take advantage of their opportunities and stranded nine runners on base in the non-conference contest.
"It was just a disheartening game," UWM head coach Scott Doffek said. "The momentum of the game shifted in the first inning when we had the bases loaded and nobody out and couldn't push a run across with four, five and six up in the order. Cuyler Franzke really kept us in the game and once again it was our inability to get a clutch hit that was our downfall."
Patzman had pulled UWM back within one in the top of the seventh, powering his fourth home run of the season into the wind and over the 370-foot marker in left center to make it 4-3 at the time.
Sophomore Cuyler Franzke put together a quality effort in relief of junior starter Nate Caldwell. Franzke worked six-plus innings, giving up two runs on three hits. He retired 10-consecutive batters at one point and 14 of 15 from the third through eighth innings. Caldwell (0-3) worked just 1.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on two hits, walking three.
Freshman Cameron Amsrud was also impressive, coming on with the bases loaded and just one out in the eighth inning and recording back-to-back strikeouts.
NIU added the insurance run on a controversial call with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning. Matt Behren hit a little dribbler up the first base line that the UWM pitcher was chasing as it closed in on crossing the foul line. After he picked it up, the ball was ruled fair and a run scored.
Trailing 3-1, senior Andy Gerhartz created a run by himself in the fifth. After legging out an infield single to short, he stayed out of the double play by running on the first pitch of the next at bat. Then, he stole third handily and was able to trot home when the throw from the catcher sailed down the left field line.
Down 1-0 after the first, UWM tied the game at 1-1 on a throwing error after sophomore Cole Kraft legged out an infield hit. NIU turned the momentum quickly, adding two in the bottom of the second on three hits.
Milwaukee had plenty of chances early, but ended up getting just one run in the first four innings. It had bases loaded with no outs in the first without scoring and left two on base in the second when it did plate one.
The Panthers also had runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth but were unable to get anything across.
"Until we can figure out a way to relax in the batters box and stop pressing so much, this is going to be the outcome," Doffek said. "We are having a hard time relaxing and it's kind of feeding on itself. That is tough to lose a game like that when you get that kind of effort out of the bullpen."
The bottom three spots in the order combined to go 6-for-12, with junior Dan Buchholz, Patzman and Kraft all recording identical 2-for-4 days. Gerhartz finished 2-for-3 and stole two bases. Alex Jones had two RBI, two runs scored and two hits, including a home run in the fifth, to lead Northern. Tom Barry (2-0) got the win, allowing just one earned run in five innings.
The Panthers finally get to open the home season next. After 21-straight games on the road to start 2009, UWM welcomes UIC to Henry Aaron Field for a weekend series. The opener is Friday, with a new start time of 3 p.m. (moved back two hours). The Horizon League contest will be televised on a tape-delay basis by Time Warner Sports 32.