Cubs

NCAA Roundup: NIU rallies to beat Kansas

893713.png

NCAA Roundup: NIU rallies to beat Kansas

DEKALB -- Northern Illinois rallied from a 23-13 fourth quarter deficit to defeat Kansas 30-23 Saturday afternoon. The Huskies (3-1) victory moved its home field winning streak to 17 games, while the Jayhawks (1-3) lost their 16th straight road contest.

Northern Illinois running back Leighton Settle scored on a 2-yard run with 4:33 left to cap a 53-yard drive and the Huskies 17-point fourth quarter. The short field was set up when Huskies defensive back Joe Windsor sacked Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist.

Kansas defensive back Tyler Patmon intercepted Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch and returned it 54-yards for a touchdown 27 seconds into the fourth quarter. The score gave Kansas a 23-13 lead before Ron Doherty missed the extra point.

On the ensuing possession for the Huskies, Lynch threw a 9-yard jump pass to Martel Moore over the middle, who ran untouched for a 65-yard score with 14:23 left to make it 23-20.

Huskies kicker Mathew Sims then tied the score at 23-23, when he kicked a 44-yard field goal with 7:58 left in the game.

Lynch had 134 yards on 22 carries, his third 100-plus rushing game of the season. Lynch also completed 23 of 35 passes for 235 yards as the Northern Illinois offense amassed 455 total yards.

For Kansas, James Sims rushed 18 times, totaling 91 yards and two touchdowns.

The teams traded scores in the first half, with Northern Illinois holding a 13-10 lead at intermission. Kansas opened the scoring in the first quarter on a 26-yard field goal by Doherty. The Huskies took the ensuing kickoff and reached the end zone on a 4-yard pass from Lynch to wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. But the point after touchdown was wide by Mathew Sims, as the Huskies led 6-3 late in the first quarter.

Kansas grabbed the lead back early in the second quarter when James Sims scored on a 26-yard run up the middle, capping an 86-yard drive. Northern Illinois concluded the first half scoring, as running back Akeem Daniels scored on a 3-yard run with 1:38 remaining.

Kansas took the second half kickoff 71 yards in 14 plays with James Sims scoring his second touchdown of the game on a on a 1-yard run on fourth and goal.

The Jayhawks entered the contest with a two game losing streak, while Northern Illinois had won its previous two contests.

Full Recap Box Score

Southern Illinois 14, Missouri State 6

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Southern Illinois got big first-quarter plays from Emmanuel Souarin and Mulku Kalokoh to beat Missouri State 14-6 Saturday in a defensive game that featured 20 punts for 738 yards.In the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams, the Salukis (2-2) prevailed despite going 0 for 13 on third-down conversions and managing just 198 yards of offense.

Souarin returned an interception 44 yards for a score in the opening quarter. On Southern Illinois' next possession, Kalokoh broke off a 36-yard run that set up his 12-yard touchdown reception from Kory Faulkner.

The Bears (0-4) managed 362 yards of offense but got only two Austin Witmer field goals in the first half to show for it.

Ryan Heaston rushed for 126 yards for Missouri State, which was hampered by nine penalties for 100 yards. Ashton Glaser completed 20 of 35 passes for 180 yards and two interceptions.

Full Recap Box Score

Illinois State 23, Western Illinois 3
MACOMB -- Darrelynn Dunn carried the load for FCS power Illinois State in Saturday's 23-3 victory over Western Illinois, rushing 29 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.The 15th ranked Redbirds (4-0) stayed perfect on the road this season at 2-0 and it is the first time since 1967 Illinois State has started a season with four straight wins.

Dunn gave Illinois State its first score of the afternoon with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 4:02 mark in the first quarter. It was the third 100-plus yards rushing effort in a game this season by Dunn.

Illinois State totaled 373 yards of offense against Western Illinois (2-2), which managed only 137 yards and a field goal themselves. A 21-yard field goal by Pat Smith with five minutes to go in the third quarter was the only drive ending in a score for the Leathernecks.

Full Recap Box Score

Eastern Illinois 50, Murray State 49 in OT

CHARLESTON -- Eastern Illinois coach Dino Babers had seen enough, calling for a two-point conversion play in the first overtime Saturday night which gave his Panthers a thrilling 50-49 overtime victory over Murray State.

Having been on the receiving end all night, Eastern Illinois (2-2) receiver Erik Lora had his number called in the huddle once again, but this time to throw, not catch. He found Von Wise in the end zone on the two-point play for the victory.

Down 49-42, Jimmy Garoppolo found Chavar Watkins on a 9-yard touchdown throw to make it 49-48 before Lora's heroics.

Lora had 21 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns Saturday. The 21 receptions were an Eastern Illinois and Ohio Valley Conference record.

Both teams recorded 1,142 yards of total offense, with Murray State (1-3) claiming 574 of it.

Casey Brockman was 43 of 64 for 423 yards and two touchdowns for the Racers.

Full Recap Box Score

Are Cubs feeling drained? The clubhouse is divided

Are Cubs feeling drained? The clubhouse is divided

For the second straight week, Kyle Schwarber halted his postgame media scrum to get something off his chest.

Standing at his locker — the same spot he stood exactly a week prior — the Cubs slugger got about as forceful as he's ever been with the cameras rolling.

Are the Cubs drained right now?

"Never. Nope. Not at all," Schwarber said. "I'll shut you down right there — we're not running out of gas at all."

Really? 

You gotta admire Schwarber's grit. He's got that linebacker/football mentality still locked and loaded in mid-October after a brutal first three games of the NLCS.

But...come on. The Cubs aren't drained? They're not tired or weary or mentally fatigued?

Schwarber says no, but it doesn't look that way on the field. They look like the high point of the season was that epic Game 5 in D.C. It was one of the craziest baseball games ever played, very reminsicent of Game 7 in last year's World Series.

Only one thing: Game 7 was the ultimate last game. They left it all on the field and that was cool because there was no more season left. Last week's wacky contest wasn't the final game of the season. It was just the final game of the FIRST series of the postseason.

So if the Cubs aren't feeling any weariness — emotional, physical, mental or otherwise — they must be superhuman.

Yet Anthony Rizzo — the face of the franchise — backed Schwarber's sentiment.

"I'm 28 years old right now," Rizzo said. "I could run laps around this place right now. I've got a great job for a living to play baseball.

"We have a beautiful life playing baseball. You gotta keep that in perspective. So if you wanna try to get mentally tired, realize what we're doing."

Rizzo talked that talk, but his performance on the field has hit a wall. After his "Respect Me!" moment in Game 3 of the NLDS, Rizzo went hitless in his next 16 at-bats before a harmless single Tuesday night. He then struck out in his final trip to the plate.

Bryzzo's other half — Kris Bryant — actually took the opposite stance of his teammates.

"Yeah, [that Washington series] was pretty draining, I think," Bryant admitted. "Some good games there that I think were pretty taxing for our bullpen and pitchers, too. 

"Kinda expect that around this time of year. The games mean a lot."

It's not surprising to hear those words from Bryant. In fact, it wouldn't even be mildly shocking to hear every player in the clubhouse share the same point of view.

The Cubs played all the way past Halloween last fall, then hit the town, having epic celebrations, going on TV shows, having streets named after them, etc. 

Then, before you know it, there's Cubs Convention again. And shortly after that, pitchers and catchers report. 

From there, the "title defense" season began, featuring a lackluster first half and a second half that took a tremendous amount of energy just to stave off the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central and get into the postseason.

Oh yeah, and then that series with the Nationals where the Cubs squeaked out a trio of victories by the slimest of margins.

These Cubs have never really had anything resembling a break. 

However, they're now just one game away from getting that rest they so badly need (and deserve).

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

10-18_yu_darvish_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

Ben Zobrist didn’t look for any deeper meaning in Kyle Schwarber’s first-inning homer off Yu Darvish on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, or hope that one swing could change the entire momentum of this National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Zobrist knows what it takes to win in October, the Cubs identifying him as the missing piece to their lineup after he helped transform the 2015 Kansas City Royals into a championship team, and then getting a World Series MVP return on their $56 million investment.

That “Schwarbomb” turned out to be fool’s gold, the only run the Cubs would score in front of a quiet, low-energy crowd of 41,871, the defending champs one more loss away from golfing/hunting/fishing/signing autographs at memorabilia shows.

“That was great to get a homer, but I’d rather see some hits strung together,” Zobrist said after a sloppy 6-1 loss, standing at his locker for almost 10 minutes, answering questions in the underground clubhouse. “I’d like to see a couple doubles together, a few singles, three or four hits in an inning. We just haven’t done that.

“That’s what makes rallies. They’ve stayed away from those kinds of innings. That’s why they’re ahead right now.”

Darvish – Jake Arrieta’s replacement in the 2018 rotation? – canceled out the two singles he allowed in the first inning by getting two of his seven strikeouts and answering some of the questions about how he would respond to all the pressure in October.

Darvish – a trade-deadline acquisition that had echoes of Theo Epstein’s “If not now, when?” explanation for last year’s Aroldis Chapman trade – walked one of the 25 batters he faced and pitched into the seventh inning before handing the game over to a lights-out bullpen.

“There’s nothing that we didn’t see beforehand on video,” Zobrist said. “It’s just a matter of we need him to make more mistakes, and we got to take advantage of those mistakes when he makes them.

“When he got to 3-2 counts, he wasn’t throwing a heater. He was throwing the cutter, and it’s a tough pitch to hit. You have to sit on it, and even then it’s got good movement to it. He kept us off-balance.”

Forward-thinking manager Dave Roberts is at the controls of a Los Angeles bullpen that can match up against right- and left-handed hitters, target locations, unleash upper-90s velocity, execute the elevated fastball that messes with eye levels and lean on All-Star closer Kenley Jansen for multiple innings.

The Dodger relievers essentially put together a no-hitter that lasted nine-plus innings across Games 1, 2 and 3. Together, they have pitched 10.2 scoreless innings, facing 36 batters and allowing two hits and a walk and hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch.

“They kept the ball on the edges and kept us off-balance,” Zobrist said. “They’re not throwing the pitch in the middle of the plate when we need them to. They’re keeping it on the edges and those are hard (to hit). When you got guys with good stuff on the mound, you need them to make some mistakes for you, or at least start walking some guys.

“When they’ve gotten in those situations with a three-ball count, they’re still making the pitch when they need to. They’re not walking many guys – and we are.

“That’s why they’re up 3-nothing.”

Zobrist (4-for-23 this postseason) is now more of a part-time player/defensive replacement, no longer the switch-hitting force who dropped the bunt at Dodger Stadium that helped end the 21-inning scoreless streak during last year’s NLCS.

Zobrist insisted the Cubs are still all there mentally, not checked out after a grueling first round against the Washington Nationals and a brutal walk-off loss in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. He owns two World Series rings and one has the Cubs logo and this inscription: “We Never Quit.”

“We keep it loose all the time,” Zobrist said. “We know what’s at stake. And we don’t shy away from it. We look forward to the challenge ahead. It would be a great story for us to be able to come back in this series and win this series.

“We make adjustments, we take advantage of mistakes and we come out with a victory tomorrow. That’s what we have to do.”