USF, Bama, and NIU pick up wins

FROM PRESS RELEASES

USF 9 Northwestern 8

TAMPA, Fla. – The University of South Florida Bulls ended their two-game skid with a 9-8 victory against the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday night at Red McEwen Field.

USF improves to 3-2 on the season while the Wildcats drop to 3-3.

“The whole team played well tonight,” said head coach Lelo Prado. “We did some things offensively that we have not done all year, and when we do that, we are going to be very successful.”

USF finally found the offense they have been looking for all year in the bottom of the fourth, after trailing 2-0 through the first three. Redshirt freshman Ryan Lockwood and junior Addison Maruszak led off the inning with back-to-back singles to right field. Junior transfer Brian Hobbs added a single to left and senior comrades Joey Angelberger and Charles Cleveland each added two-out singles to extend the inning and give USF the 4-2 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Bulls found more offense in junior Mike Consolmagno and Maruszak. Consolmagno led off the inning with a walk and was bunted over by Lockwood on the following at bat. Maruszak then hit a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall, crushing his second home run of the season. In the game Maruszak went 3-for-4, and extended his hitting streak to five games.

“We have got to have Maruszak all year,” said Prado. “He is one of our leaders and when he plays well, we usually win.”

The Bulls’ bullpen had another great performance as freshman Derrick Stultz came out and allowed just one hit, no runs and struck out three batters in two innings. Sophomore Shawn Sanford came in with a 9-7 lead and allowed one run, and one hit and struck out one batter in his second save of the year.

The Bulls go on to face the No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys on Sunday at noon. The game is also a “Season Ticket Holder Sunday”. If a season ticket holder presents their ticket stub to the concession stand they will receive a drink, hot dog and snack item for five dollars.

Game 1: NIU 3 SIU 1
Game 2: NIU 9 SIU 4

MARION, Ill. * A six-run fifth inning keyed Northern Illinois’ 9-4 victory over Southern Illinois Saturday night and gave the Huskies a doubleheader sweep of the Salukis at Rent One Park. The sweep was the first by NIU since 2006 and its first road sweep since 2001.”I think we played well defensively all day,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “Brandon Copp had good stuff but struggled a bit with command but our defense helped him out. We are starting to swing the bats better and we were able to take advantage of some mistakes by SIU. They are a good ball club and just made some errors that cost them tonight.”

Trailing 4-2 in the fifth, NIU struck for a season-high six runs in the frame. Pat Minogue (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) began the inning’s scoring when he crossed the plate on a throwing error and Danny Reed (Lindstrom, Minn./North Iowa Area CC) put the Huskies ahead with a two-run single that plated Bobby Stevens (Chicago, Ill./Guerin Prep) and Jeff Thomas (Loves Park, Ill./Harlem). Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) added to the lead with a RBI single before an error pushed two more Huskie runs across to make it 8-4.

NIU tacked on one more run in the sixth when Thomas’ sacrifice fly scored Stevens to make it 9-4.

Starter Brandon Copp (Aurora, Ill./West) lasted 5.1 innings to earn the win (1-0) in his first start of the season and has won his last nine non-conference decisions. Dave Nykiel (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) earned his second career save while tossing a scoreless final 3.2 innings in relief.

Justin Behm (Downers Grove, Ill./North), who tied his career-high, and Stevens each had three hits in the game to lead the Huskie attack.

SIU scored the game’s first run in it first at-bat on a Mark Kelly RBI single. The Huskies countered in their next at-bat with a sacrifice fly by Joe Buonavolanto (Willowbrook,Ill./Hinsdale South) that scored Justin Behm and evened the game at one. One inning later, NIU took its first lead of the game when Reed brought in Stevens with a RBI single in the third.

The home team regained the lead at 3-2 in the bottom of the third when Adam Hills hit a two-run inside-the-park home run on a ball that skipped past a diving Minogue and rolled all the way to the center field fence.

The Huskies and Salukis wrap up their series Sunday with a 1 p.m. start at Abe Martin Field on the SIU campus.

Alabama 8 Dallas Baptist 1

FRISCO, Texas – It was something old and something new for the University of Alabama baseball team against Dallas Baptist Saturday night in the championship game of the 2008 Southwest Diamond Classic at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas.

Senior left-hander Will Stroup worked 7 2/3 innings and recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts, and the freshman duo of Josh Rutledge and Ross Wilson combined for six hits, three runs and three RBI in the Tide’s 8-1 win over Patriots in to secure the schools’ eighth regular-season tournament championship.

“Stroup pitched really well and Rutledge had a solid tournament,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. “We swung the bats well again today and made things happen early in the game which is key for this team.”

Alabama (3-3) scored in each of the first four innings off starter Chris McMullen and was never threatened by DBU in the game.

Stroup (2-0) held the Patriots to one run and four hits for his second win of the season. He walked three and struck out 10, the most by a Tide starter since Wade LeBlanc struck out 11 batters in a win over Florida International on February 23, 2006.

Rutledge recorded his second consecutive four-hit game and scored one run. Wilson added two hits, including a two-run home run in the eighth inning, and scored two runs.

For the second day in a row, Alabama scored in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Rutledge led off the game with triple to right field, but was later forced out at home on junior catcher Alex Avila’s ground ball to first base. In keeping with the Tide’s two-out theme, sophomore left fielder Brandon May ripped a double to left-center to score Avila with the game’s first run.

The Tide tacked on two more runs in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead. Junior right fielder Kent Matthes led off the inning with a double down the left field line and Rhoden followed with an 11-pitch walk. Both runners moved up on sophomore third baseman Jake Smith’s sacrifice bunt. Junior center fielder Alex Kubal legged out an infield hit that scored Matthes from third base and Rutledge’s sacrifice fly scored junior DH Ryan Rhoden from third with the final run of the inning.

Alabama stretched its lead to 4-0 with a run in the third inning. Wilson led off with a triple to left field and scored on Avila’s sacrifice fly to give the Tide a four-run lead.

The Crimson Tide added an unearned run in the fourth to extend its lead to 5-0. Kubal and Rutledge reached on back-to-back, one-out singles and then executed a double steal. Kubal scored when DBU catcher Brandon Batz throw sailed into left field.

McMullen (0-1) lasted four innings and allowed five runs on eight hits. He walked two and did not record a strikeout in his 78-pitch outing.

DBU third baseman Trevor Head put the Patriots on the board with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to make the score 5-1. It was Head’s second home run of the year.

The Tide scored three runs in the eighth inning when Smith doubled down the left field line and scored on Kubal’s single to right. After Kubal was erased at second base while trying to move up on a wild pitch, Rutledge singled and scored on Wilson’s two-run home that landed on the street outside Dr Pepper Ballpark. It was his second home run of the season.

Alabama will close out its four-game Texas road trip with a Noon game at Texas-Arlington on Sunday, March 2, at Clay Gould Ballpark in Arlington. The game will not be aired on the Crimson Tide Sports Network or WACT-AM due to the Alabama-Vanderbilt women’s basketball game. The Alabama-UTA game can be heard via the internet at www.rolltide.com.