Northwestern baseball (0-6, 0-0 B1G) faced three teams on the road this weekend, traveling to both North and South Carolina. Head coach Jim Foster’s ballclub took on Gardner Webb (4-4, 0-0 Big South), Presbyterian College (5-2, 0-0 Big South) and USC Upstate (6-2, 0-0 Big South), all at their respective home fields. The Wildcats came up winless from the trip, but had a better outing than the opening weekend sweep at Texas State.
But on Monday, a piece of news dwarfed the results of the weekend.
Beacom had been the director of baseball operations since 2020 and captained Northwestern in 1989. Napoleon has been with the Wildcats since 2016, overseeing the offense, catchers and recruiting efforts. He was the longest tenured member of the coaching staff before his departure. Strauss was new to Evanston, joining in 2023 to be assistant coach and pitching coach. He previously coached at Baylor. No information has come out yet as to the reason for the departures.
Game One – Gardner Webb 6, Northwestern 2
Graduate pitcher Michael Farinelli went four innings in his second start of the year, striking out four while allowing two earned runs. Graduate pitcher Ethan Sund threw two scoreless innings in relief, striking out four.
Northwestern totaled just three hits on Friday, with one coming from third-year shortstop Tony Livermore, who also had a walk and RBI on the day. First-year designated hitter Trent Liolios nabbed one RBI and a walk in his first start of the season.
Game Two – Presbyterian 4, Northwestern 2
Third-year pitcher Matt McClure started the game and held the Blue Hose scoreless for the first three frames before giving up three earned runs in the fourth. McClure pitched through the fifth inning and finished with six hits, six strikeouts and two walks. First-year pitcher Sam Garewal took over for second-year righty Grant Comstock in the sixth and would pitch the rest of the way, striking out three and allowing one earned run in two and one-third innings.
Although the defense allowed the lowest opposing run total of Northwestern’s young season, the offense fell short. Graduate catcher Cooper Foard made the most of his only start of the weekend, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI. Graduate right-fielder Griffin Arnone notched the team’s other RBI with his only hit of the day, and graduate designated hitter Kevin Ferrer had one hit in four at-bats. Unfortunately those three were the only Wildcats that got on base on Saturday, as the rest of the team went hitless and no one was able to draw a walk.
Game Three – USC Upstate 9, Northwestern 0
Third-year pitcher Luke Benneche was chosen as the Sunday starter this weekend, replacing Comstock who started the Sunday prior. Benneche allowed five earned runs in the first two innings and finished the day with five strikeouts in three innings of work. Third-year pitcher Ben Grable struck out two in a scoreless inning of work.
Vince Bianchina was a bright spot at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a double and two walks, but he was just one of three Wildcats to record a hit in the shutout, ending a sour weekend for the Northwestern bats.
Northwestern has yet to put a W on their schedule, but the quality of teams they’ve played helps to understand why. Every team the ’Cats took on last weekend has a winning percentage at or above .500, and two beat Michigan State (4-3, 0-0 B1G) in the same weekend, showing that they can compete with Big Ten schools.
While Texas State was practically able to score at will against the Wildcats on opening weekend, the defense fared much better this go-around. Farinelli and McClure had better outings compared to their matchups with Texas State, and seem to have solidified their spots at the top of the rotation.
Offense was the major factor in the losses this time. The Wildcats scored four runs in three games, getting shut out in the weekend finale. Of the seven NU batters that have at least 2 plate appearances per game so far this season, only two are hitting at or above .250. The team as a whole has a batting average of .198, good for 276th in the country.
The task of fixing these problems becomes much more difficult now with key pieces of the staff missing. Northwestern currently has no hitting or pitching coach, leaving Foster to helm an undermanned ship.
Aside from Foster, the only listed coach still on the team is volunteer assistant Adrian Santiago. Santiago is a likely candidate to become the interim pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, both roles he served previously in his coaching career.
Despite the news, there is still baseball to be played. Northwestern will look to get the first win of the Jim Foster era next weekend in a three-game series at Louisiana Tech (4-3, 0-0 C-USA).