|Redbirds fall 13-3 at the hands of Northwestern|
|Written by Tony Andracki, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 22 April 2009 18:00|
The Redbirds continued their mid-week struggles, falling for the third straight time against a non-conference foe with a 13-3 loss to Northwestern Wednesday evening.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead with four unearned runs in the top of the first inning.
Redbird shortstop Collin Salzenstein committed an error on the first play of the game, allowing leadoff man Tommy Finn to reach safely. Trevor Stevens followed with a base hit, but ISU starter Quinn Ewert responded by striking out back-to-back Wildcats.
But, before Ewert could escape scot-free, Northwestern's Tony Vercelli drilled an 0-2 pitch over the fence for a two-out three-run bomb.
Chad Noble followed with a solo shot and just like that, the 'Birds were in a four-run hole.
"Ewert was so close to getting out of it," ISU head coach Jim Brownlee said. "First two guys get on with an error and a hit and then he strikes out two guys, dominates them. And then he's got Vercelli with two strikes and he just hung a changeup to him in his wheelhouse.
"After that pitch, I really felt it affected Quinn a whole lot for the rest of the game. I think he totally lost his confidence."
The Wildcats added a single run in the third inning but broke the game open with five runs in the top of the fourth inning.
"We didn't get some pitches in the right location and they took full advantage," ISU centerfielder Tyler McNeely said. "We'll definitely remember this, but put it behind us and get ready to go and make sure this doesn't happen this weekend."
Ewert lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing 10 runs, six earned, on nine hits while striking out four.
The Redbirds didn't plate a run until the sixth inning when nine-hitter Corey Maines drove his team-leading fourth home run of the season over the left field fence. Salzenstein followed with a double down the left-field line and two batters later, second baseman Mike Stalowy grounded a single to left to drive in the Redbird shortstop.
The 'Birds scored just once more on a solo home run by McNeely in the bottom of the eighth inning.
"You really wish it would mean something that late in the game, but it always feels good coming off the bat," McNeely said of his solo shot.
Kenny Long hurled 3 and 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Ewert, but Matt Werderitch allowed three runs in the eighth inning as the Wildcats won by slaughter rule.
"We were just not ready to go," Brownlee said. "It was a mid-week game that we weren't ready for, unfortunately."
After winning two straight mid-week, non-conference games earlier this month, the Redbirds have now dropped three consecutive games of the same variety in the last week.
McNeely doesn't believe that the team's fire in the dugout is the reason the 'Birds have not had success in mid-week games lately.
"I don't know if the intensity is different," he said. "We play lights out when we're in conference. We get ready the same way and for some reason, we just can't seem to break through with these mid-week games right now.
"We just need to keep working on our mid-week starts and hopefully we can get some rattled off here in the next couple of weeks."
The Redbirds will head to Carbondale, Ill., this weekend for a three-game matchup with conference rival Southern Illinois. They will have two games next week to atone their recent poor mid-week performances when they host Illinois Wesleyan Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Western Michigan Wednesday at 3 p.m.