after scoring a run in the ninth
ALLENDALE, Mich. - Solid
starting pitching normally keeps a baseball team in contention at
tournament time, and Northern Kentucky University received exactly
that during its stay at the NCAA Division II North Central Regional.
Unfortunately for the
Norse, opposing starters turned in superlative performances and
did not allow a run in two games during 13 combined innings on the
Andrew Silver pitched seven shutout innings before turning it over
to the bullpen Friday as the sixth-seeded Hawks eliminated NKU,
4-1, at the Grand Valley State Baseball Field. The second-seeded
Norse (42-20-1) did not score until the top of the ninth inning,
when Rockhurst reliever Logan McElwain wiggled out of a bases-loaded,
nobody-out situation by allowing just one run.
In a 2-0 loss to Southern
Illinois at Edwardsville in the first round Thursday, the NKU bats
managed just six hits against Cougar pitching. SIUE starter Kyle
Jones worked six innings before yielding to the bullpen in that
game as NKU finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Friday turned out to
be nearly the same, as NKU could not get a clutch hit with runners
in scoring position.
Rockhurst (36-21) scored
once in the third inning and added three runs in the fourth to build
a 4-0 lead. Tyler Knust’s two-run single to right-center field
keyed the three-run fourth for the Hawks.
started against Rockhurst
NKU starter Josh Bruns
(8-2) gave way to Matt Marksbury after the fourth inning. Marksbury
did not allow a run in his four innings on the mound, but the Norse
were unable to generate a big hit with runners in scoring position
for the second straight game.
Conor McGeehan led off
the top of the ninth with a single, and Matt Wagers walked to put
runners on first and second with no outs. Chris Nann followed with
a single to left field to load the bases, but McElwain battled back
and fanned designated hitter Nick D’Ippolito for the first
Josh Moulton followed
with a ground out to first base to drive in McGeehan with NKU’s
first run of the NCAA Tournament, but pinch-hitter Chris Wilson
struck out to end the game.
McGeehan and Moulton
each went 2-for-4 to lead the NKU attack. Rockhurst, however, turned
three double plays to back the pitching of Silver (7-6) and McElwain.
Bruns allowed eight
hits and three earned runs in his four innings on the mound. The
junior left-hander did not walk a batter and had no strikeouts.
During the regular season,
NKU won three of four games at Rockhurst. The Hawks countered by
defeating NKU in the GLVC Tournament last week.
The 42 wins are the
most for NKU since 1989, when the Norse finished 45-9.