Western Michigan Wins Thriller Over Northern Illinois, 5-4
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Western Michigan won its fifth-straight Mid-American Conference game, defeating Northern Illinois, 5-4, in a down-to-the-wire thriller Saturday.
The game ended on a bang-bang play at the plate, with Western Michigan senior Jack Scanlon gunning down what would have been the game-tying run from right field.
His team trailing, 5-3, with two outs and the bases loaded in the final at bat, NIU's Alex Jones roped a single Scanlon's way. Tom Barry scored easily from third and coming off second, Connor Schomig got the green light to head home in an attempt to tie the game.
Scanlon fielded the ball off the bounce and fired to the plate to WMU freshman catcher Jared Kujawa who turned and applied the tag in time.
The win improved Western Michigan to 22-25 on the year and 12-10 in the MAC, matching its conference win total from last year.
Scanlon also came up with a big throw in the fourth, holding a runner at third on a potential sac fly, and batted 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Sophomore left-hander Steve Laudicina (6-4) was masterful on the mound, limiting the Huskies to just two hits over seven innings and striking out a career-high eight batters.
NIU's Troy White singled to lead off the second and went on to score unearned after a pair of passed balls. The Huskies did not touch Laudicina again until the seventh, when Schomig singled to left field.
The Broncos scored two quick runs in the first inning and never trailed in the game. Vinnie Booker and Zach Thoma drew back-to-back walks and Ryan McMillin drove in one with a single deep in the hole at short. Duncan plated the second run with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Western Michigan extended its lead to 3-1 in the fifth. Troy Forton singled to the shortstop and moved to second on a sac bunt by Dan Shutes. Booker also laid down a sac bunt and the throw over got past the first baseman, enabling Forton to come across.
The Broncos scored two critical runs in the bottom of the eighth and took a 5-1 lead into the top of the ninth. Thoma and Scanlon hit singles to lead off the inning and with two outs, Thoma scored on wild pitch and Kujawa delivered an RBI single.
Starting left-hander Jake Hermsen (3-7) suffered the loss for Northern Illinois (14-36, 7-16 MAC), allowing five runs and eight hits over 7.1 innings.
The Broncos will go for their fourth MAC series sweep tomorrow with game three at 1 p.m. WMU will honor its five seniors, Forton, McMillin, Scanlon, Thoma, and Casey Webber prior to the game.