Huskies Split Senior Day Doubleheader Against Bowling Green

DeKALB, IL – The Northern Illinois University baseball team sent its senior class of 2022 out with a win on Friday afternoon at Ralph McKinzie Field, scoring 16 runs on 16 hits in game two for a 16-6 seven-inning win over the Bowling Green Falcons. Bowling Green won the opener 12-6 in seven innings.

Prior to game one, NIU honored its six seniors – Matt Barnes (Bloomington, Ill./Heartland CC), Paddy McKermitt (Hampshire, Illinois/Burlington Central), Paxton Kennedy (Mendota, Ill./Illinois Valley CC), Kyle Seebach (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle Twp.), Michael Lasiewicz (McHenry, Ill./McHenry) and Erik Hedmark (Algonquin, Ill./Dundee-Crown) – for Senior Day.

“Our seniors did a great job and they’ve been battling for us for their entire time here,” said head coach Mike Kunigonis† “We’ve been lucky to have these guys on campus and we thank them for their leadership and wish them the best of luck moving forward.”

NIU (14-40, 13-25 MAC) got off to a fast start in the season finale as designated hitter Carlos Aranda (Santo Domingo, DR/Ellsworth CC) hit a leadoff home run to put the Huskies up 1-0. The Huskies extended the lead in the bottom of the second, with the help of the seniors in the lineup. Kennedy got it started with a one-out double, followed by a McKermitt single. Aranda drew a walk to load the bases with two outs for Barnes who laced a single to centerfield to score both Kennedy and McKermitt to make the score 3-0. Eric Erato (Sussex, Wis./Sussex Hamilton) cleared the bases with a two-run triple to put the tally at 5-0. After a walk to Malik Peters (Calumet City, Illinois/Mount Carmel), Aaron Harper (Hemet, Calif./Mt. San Jacinto College) scored Erato with a single through the left side to put NIU up 6-0.

Redshirt-Freshman pitcher Matt Salomonson (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame College Prep) retired the first eight Bowling Green batters he faced before Adam Fallon hit a triple with two outs in the third. Salomonson got out of the inning by getting Nathan Archer to fly out to Barnes in centerfield. NIU grew its lead to 8-0 in the bottom of the fourth on run-scoring doubles by Erato and Harper.

The Falcons got on the board in the top of the fifth on a leadoff home run by Jared Johnson that made the score 8-1. Bowling Green scored another run in the inning on a groundout by Gavin Ganun. NIU answered the Falcons pair of runs with six in the bottom of the fifth. McKermitt started the barrage with his first career home run, a fly ball that just stayed inside the left field fair pole to put the Huskies up 9-2. Erato and Mason Kelley (Mt. Washington, Ky./Schoolcraft College) each had a two-run double in the inning and Harper added an RBI double of his own to make the score 14-2.

NIU took a 15-2 lead into the top of the seventh. Salomonson struck out the leadoff batter, but Zack Horky and Mason Montgomery hit back-to-back singles to give the Falcons runners at first and second. The Huskie right-hander struck out Ganun for his fourth punchout of the day and the second out of the inning. Fallon then hit a single to center, driving home Horky to make the score 15-3. NIU then went to the bullpen for Sam Pederson (Verona, Wis./McHenry County College). The Falcons tacked on three more runs to make the score 15-6. The Huskies finished the game in the bottom of the seventh. With runners at first and second and one out Kelley doubled to right center to score Erato and end the game 16-6.

Erato was 3-for-5 at the plate in game two and tied a career-high with five RBI. Harper and Kelley each drove in three runs in the win. Kennedy and McKermitt each had two hits in their final game at NIU, as Barnes was 1-for-3 with two walks and two RBI. Salomonson went 6.2 innings for his team-leading fifth win of the season, allowing five runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

“Matt was dominant for much of the game,” Kunigonis said. “I was really hoping he could finish the game to give him another feather in his cap. He had one of those seasons where he was coming back from injury and went from being on a 15-to-20 pitch count to ending his season almost with a complete game. It was an awesome effort from Matt and he gave us what we needed when we needed it.”

Bowling Green (18-34, 14-24 MAC) won the opening seven-inning game 12-6, scoring six runs in the top of the second inning. The Huskies scored three runs in the bottom of the third on an Andre Demetral (Rochester, Mich./Florence Darling Tech) sacrifice fly and a two-run single by Aranda. NIU also scored three times in the final inning highlighted by a Kennedy RBI triple down the right field line.

“The way we finished the season will give us momentum going forward into next season,” Kunigonis said. “We’re a couple arms and a couple bats from getting in that top-four and being back in the MAC Tournament where we want to be.”


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