Northwestern baseball split its season opening series against Nevada in Mesa, Arizona, this weekend, winning its first two games but then losing the final two. It was the first time since the 2008 season that NU baseball started 2-0.
The Wildcats got new head coach Spencer Allen his first victory in the opener on Friday, taking down Nevada 4-2 in the first game of a Friday night doubleheader. A pair of RBI singles by third baseman Connor Lind and catcher Jack Claeys gave NU a 2-0 lead in the first inning, setting the tone right from the start.
Right-handed starter Joe Schindler shut down Nevada, throwing five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six. Left fielder Joe Hoscheit’s two-run homer gave the Wildcats a cushion in the seventh, extending the lead to 4-0. Hoscheit went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, leading the Wildcat lineup. Nevada would get two runs back but it was not enough, as right-handed reliever Pete Hofman got the save for NU.
In the nightcap of the doubleheader, Nevada’s Trenton Brooks went yard in the first inning, giving Nevada an early lead. But NU second baseman Antonio Freschet responded with a two-run single in the bottom of the first, giving the ‘Cats a 2-1 lead. NU would score three more runs unanswered, winning 5-1.
Lefty stater Reed Mason pitched just 1.1 innings, giving up five hits, two runs (one earned), two walks and two wild pitches. But righty reliever Tommy Bordignon came to the rescue, slinging 4.1 hitless innings, racking up six strikeouts.
It was a different story Saturday, however, as Nevada crushed NU 11-2. Nevada scored four runs in both the second inning and fifth inning, putting it on the Wildcats. Righthander Josh Davis struggled on the day, allowing six hits and four earned runs in just 1.2 innings of work.
For the ‘Cats, RBI singles by Lind and centerfielder Ben Dickey produced the only runs of the day.
In the final game of the series on Sunday, Nevada won 10-6. NU built an early 3-0 lead courtesy of a Claeys two-run double and a Lind RBI single, but didn’t have the firepower to hang with Nevada. The Wildcats mixed pitchers all day, but simply weren’t able to stop the hot Nevada bats.
Northwestern (2-2) could have fared much worse in its opening series, and have to be encouraged by a split against Nevada (2-2), the defending Mountain West regular season champions. With a new coach in Allen, the Wildcats appear to be energized and motivated to make this year different than past ones.
Next weekend, NU will take the field in Stockton, California, visiting Pacific for a four-game series from Feb. 26 to Feb. 28.