Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Baseball: Northwestern’s lack of depth proves fatal in Purdue loss at Wrigley Field

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Northwestern catcher Bennett Markinson slides into second base with a double. Northwestern lost 9-3 to Purdue at Wrigley Field Friday.

Northwestern’s undefeated run at Wrigley Field has come to an end.

The Wildcats looked to become 3-0 at the Friendly Confines but fell 9-3 to Purdue Friday night.

Despite NU throwing some of its best arms, the Boilermakers — who rank second in runs and RBIs in the Big Ten — got the best of the hosts. One of the most evident shortcomings, though, was the bottom of the ’Cats’ batting order.

NU couldn’t create any semblance of offensive momentum throughout the game’s entirety. Outside of the top three batters of its lineup, just two players recorded hits. The ’Cats went 6-of-31 on the night, while the visitors went 10-of-35.

Everything felt like it was going to go the way of Purdue from the first inning, after the visitors required just two batters to score the night’s first run. Meanwhile, NU didn’t put up a run until the bottom of the fourth inning.

A lack of cohesion throughout the batting order is not a new trend for the ’Cats. NU sits last in the Big Ten in batting average, runs and hits.

The ’Cats have enjoyed a very strong top of the order. Junior catcher Bennett Markinson is having a career year, batting .329 with 30 RBIs and only 12 strikeouts. Junior utility player Preston Knott has been another offensive bright spot, batting .311 with six home runs.

However, players that normally round out the bottom of the order — including Trent Liolios, Vince Bianchina and Tony Livermore — have had their fair share of plate struggles.

Liolios co-leads NU in RBIs but has the second lowest batting average of eligible players on the squad. Liolios is batting .212 and racked up two strikeouts at Wrigley.

Bianchina’s batting average has not had too much of a drop-off, but he has had a strikeout problem this season — accumulating the eleventh most strikeouts in the Big Ten. The infielder has struck out a team-high 42 times, including two times on Friday in a hitless performance.

Livermore’s one hit was his first since April 14. Livermore went four games without a hit during that span. He is hitting .171 on the year, a decline from last season’s .237 average.

The trio, along with Griffin Arnone, holds four spots of the conference’s bottom seven batting averages among eligible hitters. Livermore carries the worst batting average in the conference, while Liolios and Bianchina hold the third and seventh worst spots, respectively.

The ’Cats are falling behind in the Big Ten because of their lack of depth. No player in the bottom five of NU’s starting batting order Friday is batting over .250. To put this in perspective, infielder Ty Gill is the only player in Purdue’s Friday night lineup batting under .250 on the season, and he entered the game batting over that tally.

While it is unfair to expect a team’s bottom half of the order to produce all of the offense, the ’Cats’ last few hitters must be better at the plate if they want any chance at a Big Ten Tournament appearance.

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