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Big innings problematic for NIU baseball over weekend

DeKALB – Northern Illinois baseball coach Ed Mathey will watch game tape after the Huskies’ 12-7 loss to Eastern Michigan, which came on the heels of a 17-12 loss the day before. He’ll dissect his pitchers’ mechanics in hopes of finding a few easy fixes.

But there’s part of a pitcher’s game that can’t be dissected on tape. 

And that part of the game might be most important to limiting the opposition’s big innings, which have killed the Huskies in two straight losses.

“There’s a mental component to that in terms of not giving into what’s around you as a pitcher and about being able to settle in and say, ‘I’m going to get this batter out, I’m going to get this batter out, I’m going to get this batter out,’ ” Mathey said. “Because if you do that enough, they’re not going to put together big innings.”

During those two games, Eastern Michigan scored four or more runs in four innings.

On Saturday, the Huskies took a lead after falling behind, 2-0, early. Brian Sisler’s second-inning, two RBI triple tied the score and the Huskies tacked on two more runs in the third. Each team would take another lead before the big inning once again proved costly.

The Eagles scored five hits in the sixth inning, including a three-run home run, giving them an 11-5 lead. The Huskies never mustered much of a rally, tallying a single run in the seventh and ninth innings.

The loss was relatively inconsequential for the Mid-American Conference West race, because NIU will have to win only one game against Ball State next weekend to clinch the division. The Cardinals are two games behind the Huskies.

“I hope guys aren’t panicking,” senior Jamison Wells said. “We keep telling guys, the pressure’s really not on us, the pressure’s on the other team, let’s keep it that way. We only need one win next weekend, and that’ll clinch the MAC West title.”

Although confidence will be key for his pitchers down the stretch, Mathey knows a few tweaks this week might make the difference between winning the MAC West and coming home empty-handed.

“We’ve got to get back to the bullpens, we’ve got to get back to our work,” Mathey said. “It’s just about dissecting it, seeing if there are some mechanical things in there. There are a couple of things we’ve picked up, and it’s just about throwing the ball to our locations. We missed a lot of spots, and Eastern Michigan made us pay for it.”

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