NIU falls to Kent State 9-8 in overtime

DeKALB, IL – The Northern Illinois University baseball team overcame an early deficit against the Kent State Golden Flashes on Sunday afternoon, but it was the visitors who came away with a 9-8 victory in 10 innings at Ralph McKinzie Field at Walt and Janice Owens Park.

“We were the better team for eight and a half innings and we just don’t know how to win,” the head coach said. Ryan Copeland. “It’s a shame because we played really well this weekend. We couldn’t close the game and it always seems to come down to giving up free passes.”

NIU (12-26, 7-11 MAC) led 7-4 entering the top of the ninth. Jacob Draeger (Johnston, Iowa/Des Moines Area CC) entered the game from the bullpen and promptly retired Michael McNamara and Kolton Schaller for the first two outs of the inning. Lance Macdonald kept the inning alive with a double. Draeger then hit Ripken Reese with a pitch and walked Josh Johnson to load the bases. Matt Salomonson (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame College Prep) then replaced Draeger on the mound. Tim Orr gave Kent State an 8-7 lead with a grand slam over the left field wall. Salomonson then walked Kyle Jackson, who was later thrown out trying to steal second base to end the inning.

The Huskies scored the tying run in the bottom of the ninth. Colin Summerhill (Chicago, Illinois/Troy) started the attack with a single to centerfield with one out. a CJ Cepicky (St. Louis, Mo./Missouri) moved Summerhill to third base. Mason Kelley (Mt. Washington, Ky./Schoolcraft College) hit a groundball to McNamara at third base, who threw to Reese at second base to start a possible double play. Reese bobbled the transfer on the throw to first as Summerhill scored to tie the game at 8-8.

Kent State (19-18, 10-8 MAC) regained the lead in the top 10e. Brody Williams drew a walk Jake Kohanzo (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) to open the inning. He later took second base on a wild pitch. Dom Kibler singled him to right field, making the score 9-8. The Huskies scored the tying run on base in the bottom half of the inning on a two-out Jake Nelson (Altoona, Wis./Madison College), but Peyton Cariaco of the Golden Flashes struck out to secure the win and the series for Kent State.

The Golden Flashes took an early 3-0 lead on a two-run home run by McNamara in the second inning and a solo shot by Jackson in the third. NIU got two runs back in the bottom of the third when a Nelson RBI single and a Summerhill sacrifice fly made it 3-2. The Huskies took the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out, two-run double by André Demetral (Rochester, Mich./Florence Darling Tech) gave NIU a 4-3 lead. Summerhill drove in the next two runs for NIU, a sacrifice fly in the fifth and a solo home run with two outs in the seventh for his 17e of the year, to extend the Huskies’ lead to 6-3.

Freshman Alex Day (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) kept the Golden Flashes at bay and entered the game in relief of Dominic Hann (Washington, Michigan/Michigan State) in the top of the fifth inning and pitched three shutout innings. Day allowed just one hit with no walks and three strikeouts. Kent State threatened to take the lead in the top of the eighth inning after an Orr leadoff home run made it 6-4. After Jackson took a walk, Sam Pederson (Verona, Wis./McHenry CC) bounced Williams into a double play through the first two outs of the inning. He then caused Kibler to fly out to end the inning.

“The day was really good,” Copeland said. “He’s shown some promise all season and the ability to close out lineups. It was impressive to get us three shutout innings after Dominic (Hann) got us through four. Pederson bounced back after pitching yesterday and got the doubles in the eighth and ultimately won that battle.”

The Huskies extended the lead to 7-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning with a runscoring single Charlie Parcell (Des Plaines, Illinois/Maine West), his second goal of the game.

Seven of the nine Huskies in the starting batting order had at least two hits in Sunday’s game. Summerhill went 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. The three hitters at the bottom of the order – Parcell, Demetral and Spencer Bartel (Sun Prairie, Wisconsin/Madison College) – combined to go 6-for-13 with three RBI and three runs scored.

NIU wraps up its current homestand on Tuesday, April 23 against Valparaiso. The first pitch is at 3 p.m