The Wildcats looked sloppy during a 7-1 loss to Minnesota on Sunday at Northwestern’s Rocky Miller Park. The Golden Gophers swept Northwestern in the weekend series, winning 4-2 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday.
For the first four innings, the scoreless game looked like it was going to be a pitcher’s duel between Northwestern’s Brandon Magallones and Minnesota’s DJ Snelton.
The wheels started turning for Minnesota’s offense in the top of the fifth inning. After walking a batter to load the bases following a questionable no-strike call, Magallones gave up a sacrifice fly to Minnesota third baseman Ryan Abrahamson. The pop up was just deep enough to break the game’s scoreless streak.
Magallones gave up another quick single and the ‘Cats were down 2-0 after the fifth inning. Still, the sophomore pitched well, recording five strikeouts, seven hits and two runs.
Things started to unravel for the ‘Cats in the seventh inning once Jack Livingston took the mound. The junior was doing his best Charlie Sheen impression from Major League. Sheen’s character, Ricky Vaughn, portrayed a talented but wild pitcher on the Cleveland Indians who constantly hit batters or threw wild pitches. Livingston continued to throw balls early in the count, allowing the Minnesota hitters to pick the pitches they wanted to swing at.
In fact, after a wild pitch that allowed Minnesota to score their third run of the day, a vocal Minnesota fan belted out lyrics to Jimi Hendrix’s "Wild Thing": Vaughn’s walkout song in the film.
“Wild thing, you make my heart sing, you make everything groovy,” yelled the fan.
The crowd erupted with laughter. Even Livingston, the last person who should find that funny, couldn’t help but smirk before throwing his next pitch.
With two outs and runners at the corners, all Livingston needed to do was get a groundball in order to control the damage. He got one, but second baseman Kyle Ruchim couldn’t make the play on a tough hop. The very next play, Livingston got a dribbler to the pitching mound but first baseman Jack Harvey couldn’t field the throw. At this point, the ‘Cats were down 5-0.
After a two-RBI single from Andy Henkemeyer the ‘Cats looked disheveled. Pitcher Jack Quigley relieved Livingston after only two thirds of an inning. The bleeding stopped when catcher Jake Straub threw a bullet to tag out a stealing Henkemeyer at second for the final out of the inning.
The only offense either team saw afterwards was in the back half of the seventh. Pinch hitter Moses Walker brought in Colby Everett on a poke to center field to make the score 7-1.
The win put Minnesota in a tie for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan at 7-2. Northwestern currently sits tied for 8th with Purdue at 4-8.
Currently 14-13, Northwestern needs to rack up a few wins to stay competitive in the Big Ten. The ‘Cats are home for their next 6 games, including a big game against Michigan at Wrigley Field on Saturday, April 20.
MVP of the game: DJ Snelton
Snelton pitched an absolute gem, allowing four hits and one run over six and a third innings. He controlled the game with a frequent dose of off speed pitches. Now 3-0 on the year, the lefty junior picked up his third win of the season.