DeKALB — Following Saturday's 3-1 loss to Central Michigan, Northern Illinois baseball coach Ed Mathey felt that Huskies pitcher Jake Hermsen gave his team an excellent shot at winning the ballgame.
The NIU southpaw threw a complete game, finishing with a career-high 11 strikeouts.
Hermsen kept the Chippewas (22-25, 11-9 Mid-American Conference) hitters off balance all day, yet when the final out was made it was Central Michigan celebrating at Ralph McKinzie Field after taking Game 2 of their three-game series with the Huskies (14-32, 7-12 MAC), and getting one step closer to a three-game sweep.
Allowing three earned runs on six hits and five walks in his nine innings of work, Hermsen still ended up with the tough-luck loss as his record fell to 3-6.
"The pitchers know all they can control is going out and doing their job," Mathey said. "Jake gave us a chance to win the baseball game today."
Central Michigan got on the board with two quick runs in the first inning on a two-run double by right fielder Sam Russell. Russell's RBI chance came right after the Chippewas' No. 3 hitter, William Arnold, laid down a sacrifice bunt to give Central Michigan runners on second and third with nobody out. The Chippewas added their third run on a no-doubt solo homer to right field by designated hitter Reid Rooney in the sixth.
The key to Hermsen being able to miss bats was his change-up, as well as his biting slider. The left-hander said that he got Chippewas hitters to swing and miss at the change the first three or four innings, before he used the slider as an out pitch more often as the game went on.
A change-up is always a nice compliment to a good fastball, something Central Michigan hitters saw Saturday afternoon.
"If you can get your change-up going it's always one of the best pitches in baseball," Hermsen said. "If you can get it to look like your fastball, guys are either going to roll over the ball or swing over the top. Fortunately, [Central Michigan hitters] were swinging over the top today."
Unfortunately for Hermsen, he was just out-dueled by Chippewas starter Patrick Kaminska, who got the victory and improved to 4-2. Kaminska struck out four Huskies and didn't walk a hitter in his 7 2/3 innings of work before giving way to Ryan Longstreth, who pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to earn his second save of the season.
The Huskies got their lone tally on a Jordan Huffman RBI single in the fifth inning. Huffman was 2 for 4 for NIU. Second baseman Alex Klonowski went 3 for 4 for the Huskies and catcher Joe Battaglia was 1 for 3 with a walk. He scored NIU's lone run.
Mathey thought Kaminska did a good job of keeping his team off balance and throwing strikes early in the count, which was evidenced by his walk total. The NIU skipper also felt his team was able to put the bat on the ball, yet just didn't have the right luck at times.
The Huskies also left eight runners on base.
"For the most part we swung the bats good today and I thought we hit some balls hard," Mathey said. "We hit some line shots right at guys, and of course when it matters, those RBI times, those RBI opportunities — we had a couple of them today, we weren't able to get the hit that we needed."