Baseball team peaking at the right time
Almost three weeks ago the Central Michigan baseball team looked to be at a crossroads.
After winning 10 of its first 12 games in the Mid-American Conference, CMU found itself on top of the MAC West division, a spot nobody predicted them to be in at the beginning of the season.
As expected, though, tough times were ahead.
The team lost its first series of the season in late April, at home against Ball State. Then Northern Illinois took two out of three from the Chippewas, thrusting them from their first place throne.
A 9-8 loss in 11 innings on May 7 against Toledo seemed to put a damper on the team’s hopes of winning the West Division, its first of several goals set at the beginning of the season.
Coach Steve Jaksa wouldn’t admit it at the time when I asked if the game the next day was a must win. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed while covering this team, Jaksa doesn’t like to put pressure on his players.
But Saturday, after the team won its first MAC regular season title since 2004, he noted how important the 10-6 win on May 8 was.
Looking back, it set off a streak of eight consecutive conference wins, including two pivotal series sweeps that put the Chippewas in a position to contend for a title.
And the seniors have been an integral part in that run.
After sitting out all of last year, third baseman James Teas turned it on during the Toledo series. Over the three games, Teas went 10-for-14 with nine RBIs.
Jesse Hernandez, the ace of the pitching rotation, rebounded from a loss and no decision to lead the team to series-opening wins against WMU and EMU.
Billy Anderson, after struggling offensively and being moved from the leadoff hitter spot to fifth in the lineup, has begun to return to old form with the bat.
Dale Cornstubble has been a consistent force in the lineup, third on the team in batting average (.327) while tied for second in RBIs (39).
Ricky Clark and Tyler Kipkee have come through down the stretch with key at-bats and plays defensively.
This group of individuals has turned it on at the right time, but it must continue during the MAC tournament.
A regular season conference title is nice, but the team should not be satisfied.
Time to go out and win the real one.
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