The Bowling Green State University baseball team swept Sunday's
doubleheader against Northern Illinois, earning a series victory for the first
time in 2014. The Orange and Brown got great starting pitching from both Mike Frank and Andrew
Lacinak during the double-dip, as both earned wins on the day. Ethan
McKenney and Jason Link each earned a save, as the
Falcons won the first game 4-1 and the second game 7-3. With the doubleheader
sweep, Bowling Green is now 8-16 on the season and 2-4 in Mid-American
Game One: Bowling Green 4, Northern Illinois 1
Mike Frank (1-4) pitched seven innings to earn his first victory of the season, allowing just one hit while striking out three. The lone run that Frank surrendered was unearned, as NIU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning.
The Falcons bounced right back to take a lead in the bottom of the second, as T.J. Losby led off with a single. Losby was 2-for-4 in the game with an RBI.
Patrick Lancaster would hit into a fielder's choice, beating out a potential double-play groundball which retired Losby. A Brandon Howard single would advance Lancaster to third, and a throwing error would allow both of them to advance, tying the game at one. Logan Walker would give the Falcons the lead for good with an RBI triple to score Howard, giving the Falcons a 2-1 lead after two innings.
The Falcons would add solo runs in both the bottom of the sixth and bottom of the seventh innings, increasing their lead to 4-1.
In the bottom of the sixth, Brian Bien would walk to extend his on-base streak to 22 consecutive games. Jeremy Shay would then walk to give the Falcons runners at first and second for Losby, the cleanup hitter. Losby would deliver with an RBI double into right-center which scored Bien and advanced Shay to third. It looked as if the Falcons had extended their lead on a Lancaster sacrifice fly, but the umpire would rule that Shay left third base early on an attempt to tag up, ending the inning.
In the home half of the seventh, Jesse Rait would double, one of Bowling Green's four extra-base hits in the game, to score Brandon Howard and extend the Falcons' lead to 4-1. Once again, the inning ended when a runner was ruled to have left third base early on an attempt to tag up and score on a fly ball to the outfield.
Ethan McKenney would come on for Frank in the top of the eighth, striking out the first batter he faced before running into some trouble with three straight batters reaching. But, with the bases loaded and just one out, Northern Illinois would hit a line drive right at second baseman Logan Walker, and his throw to first would be in time to double up the Huskies' Alex Klonowski at first.
McKenney would work a harmless ninth inning, earning his third save of the season. The Falcons had seven hits in the game, with four of them being for extra bases.
Game Two: Bowling Green 7, Northern Illinois 3
For the second straight game, the Falcons fell behind early, only to come-from-behind and win. Andrew Lacinak, who earned his second win of the season, pitched 5.2 innings while allowing just three runs and striking out two. NIU would get a leadoff home run in the top of the third by Chris DiVarco to take a lead, but Lacinak continued to roll after that, throwing less than 50 pitches through the first five innings.
NIU starter Eli Anderson kept the Falcons off-balance in the early going, much like last year's MAC Tournament first round game.
Logan Walker gave the Falcons their first base runner with one out in the bottom of the third, as he walked. But, the Falcons wouldn't crack Anderson's code until the bottom of the fifth, as Patrick Lancaster led off the inning with a single up the middle.
Brandon Howard would lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance Lancaster to second, but when Anderson couldn't pick the ball up cleanly, Howard was able to reach first safely to give the Falcons two baserunners with nobody out. Jake Thomas would single to score Lancaster, and an error by the centerfielder would allow Howard to score all the way from first, giving the Falcons a 2-1 lead.
After a Brian Bien sacrifice fly scored Jake Thomas to give the Falcons a 3-1 lead, Jeremy Shay would double down the left field line to score two more Falcons and give the Falcons a 5-1 lead after five innings.
Coming off a 22-month Tommy John injury, Lacinak would struggle to get loose again in the sixth, making it through just two outs before surrendering two runs and giving way to reliever Jason Link. Link would work out of the jam, keeping the lead at 5-3.
An infield single by Walker with two outs in the sixth would score Howard from third, as the Falcons got a run back and increased the lead to 6-3. The Orange and Brown would then add a key insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, as a Thomas double would score Howard.
Link would earn the save in the game, his first of the season, as he pitched the final 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball. He allowed just three hits while striking out a batter.
The Falcons will be back in action on Wednesday night, when they travel to University of Cincinnati for a midweek contest with the Bearcats. That game is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. at UC's Marge Schott Stadium.