DeKALB – Sophomore Chris Divarco finished Friday afternoon’s game against Ball State with a team-best three hits in four at-bats, but the effort was not enough as the Huskies fell to the Cardinals, 11-2.
“Ball State’s pitcher did a good job of keeping us off balance today. He has two wins in two days so credit to him. We just weren’t able to get the big hits that we needed,” NIU coach Ed Mathey said. “Chris (Divarco) is a guy who’s been working hard in the program. He’s been able to put the barrel on the bat lately and he’s shown it the last two games. It’s good to see guys who have been working hard take advantage of their opportunities.”
BSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first and increased it by one in the second stanza, 4-0, but the Huskies accounted for one run in the bottom of the second inning on a Joe Battaglia sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Jordan Huffman and bring NIU to within three runs, 4-1.
The Cardinals tacked on one run in the fourth and extended its lead with three runs in each the sixth and seventh innings to give Ball State a 10-run lead, 11-1. Starting pitcher Jake Hermsen pitched five innings in the game, surrendering eight hits, three earned runs and three walks in the contest for his eighth loss of the season (3-8).
Though he did not score or drive in any runs, Divarco was a catalyst for the Huskies offense, finishing 3-for-4 at the plate, including 2-for-3 with runners on base. Defensively, he did not commit an error on first base.
In the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, Huskies Kevin Sweeney and Anthony Andres combined for two hitless and scoreless innings, along with two strikeouts. Following a pair of singles in the bottom of the ninth, freshman Micah McCulloch scored Troy White from third base on a fielder’s choice to give the Huskies one more run in the game, 11-2.
Northern Illinois (15-39, 7-19 MAC) and Ball State (13-36, 8-18 MAC) will close the season Sunday afternoon, beginning at 1:05 p.m. The Huskies will honor its eight seniors before the game for Senior Day and will hold a 40th anniversary reunion for the 1972 NIU baseball team, the Huskies' first NCAA Regional qualifying team.