Weaver shuts door on Toledo; CMU advances in MAC baseball tournament
With the season on the brink, senior closer Jon Weaver came in and saved the day in Central Michigan’s 4-3 win over Toledo Thursday.
The Rockets had the bases loaded with one out in a 3-3 tie when Weaver entered the game in the bottom of the eighth inning.
He struck out the first batter he faced and got Toledo shortstop Nate Langhals to ground out to second base. Weaver followed that up in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning, capped off by a pair of strikeouts, to advance the Chippewas to Day 3 of the Mid-American Conference tournament in Avon, Ohio.
“My whole goal when I go out there is just to throw strikes,” Weaver said. “I want to challenge the hitter and, fortunately, I was able to get a few ground balls and good two-strike pitches.”
CMU took the lead in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by senior catcher William Arnold. Freshman second baseman Pat MacKenzie drew a leadoff walk and senior centerfielder Tyler Hall reached base on a bunt single
“All of those guys executed,” said head coach Steve Jaksa. “(I’m) really proud of those guys and how we battled today.”
The Chippewas needed to get a quick start at the plate after being held hitless through five in Wednesday’s loss to Eastern Michigan, and they did that by getting three hits and three runs in the first inning.
“We just need to keep grinding it out and live to play another day,” Jaksa said.
CMU wouldn’t get another run until that ninth inning, but this time it was UT that was held hitless into the fifth by junior starter Pat Kaminska. He went five and 2/3 innings allowing just four hits and no earned runs.
The Chippewa bullpen kept the team alive as freshman Sean Renzi and senior Ryan Longstreth went one and 2/3 innings before handing the ball to Weaver.
“He (Kaminska) was pitching great,” Jaksa said. “Then Renzi does what he’s done all year, and closed the door with a big strikeout and it carries over from there.”
It also turned out to be an historic day for one CMU player.
Senior Nate Theunissen went 2-for-3 with an RBI, becoming the all-time hit leader in CMU baseball history.
“It felt great (to get the record), it’s been a work in progress the last few weeks and I was trying not to think about it, but that didn’t go so well for me,” Theunissen said. “I was looking for a fastball and he started me off with off-speed, but I got my fastball and I hit it hard.”
CMU will play the loser of the No. 6 seed Eagles-No. 7 Miami at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
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