May 22, 2008


Behm's bomb helps Northern Illinois outscore Ball State


By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – For a while, it seemed like home run derby.


The two teams combined for six home runs as No. 4 Northern Illinois outscored No. 5 Ball State 13-7 in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at VA Memorial Stadium.


NIU will face the winner of the Kent State/Central Michigan game on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., while BSU will meet the loser at 12:30 p.m. in an elimination game.


The Cardinals (27-24) used three long balls to built a 6-0 lead in the middle of the third. Zach Dygert had a solo shot to lead off the second. Wayne Bond, Jr., had a two-run homer in the third and Matt Stoeklen added a three-run bomb later in the frame as BSU built a 6-0 lead.


“I was hoping after the third inning that it was going to take more that six runs to win this game,” said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. “We were chasing it. Ball State is a very dangerous ballclub with their bats but it turned into a pretty good hitter’s day and our hitters responded, so that was great to see.”


Dave Reynolds had a two-run blast and Jeff Thomas added a three-run homer in a five-run fourth as the Huskies (27-24) pulled to within one. Justin Behm’s two-run shot in the fifth put NIU on top to stay. The Huskies added one more in the fifth, two in the sixth, one in the seventh and two in the eighth for their 13 runs.


“With the small gap out in right center and with the wind pushing it out, the ball just jumped today,” Behm said. “That’s something you have to deal with and we were able to take advantage after they took advantage real early and we were never out.”


Behm finished with three hits, two runs and two RBI. Reynolds had two hits, two runs and three RBI.


The Huskies have scored at least seven runs in each of their past six games.


“We’re putting up good numbers right now,” Behm said. “I think we’re locked in pretty well at the plate. We’re doing things to pick up our pitchers. Trevor (Feeney) struggled early but he was able to give us six strong innings and we were able to pick him up. That’s what you have to do in tournament play. You’re going to have a lot of runs scored and you’re going to have to be able to do that when somebody comes out and struggles early.”