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College Baseball Round-Up: Notre Dame Off to Solid Start While Illinois, Northwestern Struggle

UIC was swept in a four-game series against Auburn, while Northern Illinois lost three-of-four to start the season

While professional baseball teams are in Arizona and Florida beginning their preparations for the 2020 season, the collegiate baseball season got underway over the weekend, with over 100 teams throwing out the first pitches of the new campaign.

Despite all the excitement surrounding the opening weekend, there wasn’t a lot to celebrate for the area’s crop of Division I teams. Notre Dame did manage to win two-of-three against Boston College, but the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois Chicago, Northwestern and Northern Illinois University all struggled in their opening games of the 2020 season.

Here is a breakdown of how teams throughout the area did:  

Illinois Fighting Illini

Results:

It was a mixed bag of results for Illinois in their first set of games this year, with a win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday, followed by back-to-back losses to Seton Hall and Wake Forest to conclude the weekend.

Star of the Week:

In an up-and-down week for Illinois, Nathan Aide had a strong start to the 2020 campaign. On Friday, Aide went 1-for-3 with a home run and a pair of RBI’s in Illinois’ win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored in Saturday’s loss against Seton Hall.  

Upcoming Games:

The Illini will continue their East Coast swing with a trio of weekend games, starting with a Friday clash against Western Carolina in Conway, South Carolina.

The Illini will also play weekend games against Coastal Carolina and West Virginia.

Northern Illinois University Huskies

Results:

The Huskies got their 2020 campaign off to a rough start as they dropped their first three games to Boston College, but Northern Illinois finally got on the board with a 12-3 victory in Winter Haven, Florida on Sunday afternoon.

Star of the Week:

First baseman Jordan Larson had a monster week at the plate for the Huskies, racking up seven hits (including four extra-base hits), four RBI’s, three walks and five runs scored. He terrorized Boston College on Sunday with a perfect 4-for-4 day, with two RBI’s and four runs scored in the blowout victory.

Upcoming Games:

 The Huskies will have another four-game series on tap next weekend, as they’ll take on the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Northwestern Wildcats

Results:

After two straight losses to kick off their week, Northwestern was able to get on the board with a win over the University of Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday afternoon at Camelback Ranch in Arizona.

A one-run loss Friday kicked off the season for the Wildcats, but Saturday was a rough slog as they fell 9-2.

Star of the Week:

Michael Trautwein had a home run and a pair of RBI’s in the season opener for Northwestern, but one of the most consistent performers of the weekend was Shawn Goosenberg, as he had a pair of three-hit games on the weekend and drove in five RBI’s in the three game series.

Upcoming Games:

The Wildcats will try to rebound from their tough opening series with a three-game set at the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia. The first game of the series is set for Friday at 3 p.m., and the series will wrap up Feb. 23 with a 12:30 p.m. start.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Results:

The Irish opened up their 2020 season on the road against the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and things went pretty well as they won two out of three games, including the rubber game on Sunday at Young Memorial Field.

Notre Dame got off to a good start on both sides of the diamond with a 4-2 win Friday, and after dropping a Saturday slugfest they recovered for a 9-3 victory Sunday afternoon.

Star of the Week:

Pitcher Tommy Sheehan got the Irish off to a strong start on the weekend, pitching seven shutout innings and giving up just one hit and zero runs in a win over the Blazers.

Jared Miller also had a really good weekend for Notre Dame, including a four-hit game against UAB on Saturday. The infielder smacked a pair of doubles, drew a walk and scored a run in a 10-7 loss.

Upcoming Games:

Following their series against the Blazers, the Fighting Irish will host the 2020 Alamo Irish Classic in San Antonio, with games against Toledo, the University of Texas-San Antonio and Incarnate Word on the docket.

Game 1 of the tournament is set for Feb. 20.

UIC Flames

Results:

It was not the start that the Flames wanted to get off to, as they were swept in a four-game series at the hands of the eighth-ranked Auburn Tigers.

The Flames kept things close in the first game of the season, a 5-3 loss Friday, but they were outscored badly for the remainder of the weekend, with Auburn outscoring the Flames 39-4 in the remaining four games.

Star of the Week:

The Flames’ offense had a rough weekend against the Tigers, but Joshua Figueroa was one of the few diamonds in the rough for UIC, blasting a home run and driving in four RBI’s on the weekend.

Figueroa drove in a pair of runs in UIC’s loss to Auburn on Friday evening, and followed that up with two more RBI’s in UIC’s 7-3 loss on Saturday afternoon.

Upcoming Games:

After a brutal series against Auburn, things are going to get even tougher for the Flames next weekend, as they head to Nashville for a three-game series against the defending national champion Vanderbilt Commodores.

The first game of the series is set for Friday at 4:30 p.m. After that series, the Flames will get to head home for a game against Roosevelt at Curtis Granderson Stadium on Feb. 25.

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