Bronco Baseball Out-Slugs Northern Illinois, 13-9
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Western Michigan (21-25, 11-10 MAC) baseball took game one of its three-game Mid-American Conference series against Northern Illinois, 13-9, winning its fourth MAC game in a row.
Former Broncos, Frankie Ballard Jr., a fast-rising country musician, and Tony Scheffler, tight end for the Detroit Lions, threw out ceremonial first pitches before the game. Ballard and Scheffler were teammates under former head baseball coach Fred Decker.
Western Michigan (14) and Northern Illinois (16) combined for 30 hits, with four different Broncos having multi-hit games. WMU also totaled seven extra-base hits.
Zach Thoma went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, while Troy Forton belted three doubles, collecting two RBIs. Patrick Duncan also had three hits, including a double, and drove in three runs. Jared Kujawa smacked a two-run triple and a two-run single.
In his final start on his home field, senior left-handed pitcher Casey Webber earned the win, evening his record to 4-4 on the season. Webber went 6.2 innings, allowing seven runs and 12 hits, walking three and striking out five. Already in the top-five all time at WMU in career strikeouts (204), Webber also moved into the top five for career innings pitched (255.1 IP).
Northern Illinois got to Webber for three runs in the first, off a leadoff walk and three hits. The Broncos evened the score with three runs in the bottom of the inning then made NIU pay for extra at bats in the second, plating seven runs to take a 10-3 lead.
Duncan singled in a run in the first and Kujawa hit a two-out, two-run triple to the wall in right center for his team-leading fourth three-bagger of the season.
The Hukies committed two errors in the second and Broncos pounded out six hits, batting through the lineup. Forton doubled twice in the inning. Thoma and Scanlon also had an extra-base hit, while Kujawa recorded two more RBIs with a single up the middle.
NIU pushed two runs across in the third and another in the fifth, while Western Michigan scored a run in the bottom of the third and plated two in the sixth, putting the game at 13-6.
The Huskies scored the final three runs with a tally in the seventh and a two-run homer by Jeff Zimmerman in the ninth.
Zimmerman and Alex Klonowski each batted 4-for-5 with three RBIs for Northern Illinois (14-35, 7-15 MAC).
RHP Taylor Nawrocki (4-6) took the loss, lasting just an inning and two-thirds in the start. He gave up 10 runs and eight hits, walking one and striking out one.
RHP David Brennan threw the final 2.1 innings for Western Michigan.
Western Michigan will try to match its MAC win mark from last season when it goes for its 12 conference victory tomorrow in game two at 1 p.m. The two teams conclude the series Sunday with a 1 p.m. first pitch. The Broncos will honor their five seniors, Forton, Scanlon, Thoma, Webber and Ryan McMillin prior to the game.