DEKALB, Ill. – The University of Akron (24-23, 11-11) baseball team came through with a 13-inning, 7-4 win over Northern Illinois University (15-33, 9-13) on Friday afternoon at Ralph McKinzie Field in the opening game of a three-game Mid-American Conference series. This was the longest game of the season for UA.
The Zips offense set the tone early with two quick runs in the top of the first inning. Redshirt senior James Sheltrown led off with a double to left-center, and was driven in on a double to centerfield by Devan Ahart, his team-leading 24th RBI of the season. Sophomore Kris Simonton followed with a single through the left side, scoring Ahart from second base.
Following the Zips early outburst, sophomore John Valek III went to work with four scoreless frames to kick off the series-opening start. UA aided Valek with one run in the top of the third on a Matt LaRocca RBI single through the left side to score freshman Brian Lees from third base.
Northern Illinois got on the board with a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 3-1 Akron lead, which is Valek's second homerun allowed this season. The southpaw retired the next two Huskies and tossed a scoreless sixth before handing the game to the bullpen.
Freshman Josh Davis came to the mound for Akron after Valek's masterful start. Davis allowed a run on a sacrifice fly, but escaped the seventh-inning jam with a two-out, swinging strikeout.
Both teams went silent in the eighth frame to hold the game at a 3-2 Akron score. Simonton provided an insurance run with a solo shot to left center, the first of his career, in the top of the ninth to give the Zips a 4-2 advantage.
However, LaRocca allowed two runs in the ninth tying the game at 4-4. Joe Cochran would relieve LaRocca and finish the inning, and followed with a scoreless tenth inning for Akron to hold the game at 4-4.
After a scoreless 11th inning for the Zips, redshirt junior Myles McVeigh took over on the mound. McVeigh was stellar with scoreless frames in the bottom of the 11th and 12th allowing the Zips to rally for the win.
Simonton led off the attack, scoring from third on an error to NIU's second baseman. Freshman James Meeker followed with a single to right to load the bases. McVeigh helped himself out with a clutch RBI single through the right side to plate Brady Stewart.
Sheltrown capped off the three-run, 13th inning rally with a bases-loaded hit by pitch. Redshirt junior Matt Rembielak scored on the play to put Akron up, 7-4.
McVeigh retired the first two Huskies on strikeouts in the bottom of the 13th before ending the game on a popout to second base. The right-hander's record evened to 2-2 with the 7-4 Zips victory.
Sheltrown and Simonton led the Zips offense with three base hits apiece. Simonton had the team-high in with two runs scored, two RBI and two walks. He has seven RBI in the past four games. Ahart, LaRocca and McVeigh had one hit and one RBI each.
The Zips totaled 12 base hits and nine walks in their longest game of the 2014 campaign.
Akron and Northern Illinois will matchup on Saturday at 1 p.m., EST for the second game of the three-game series.