CMU baseball holds on to beat Kent State 5-4, take series
It was the top of the ninth inning and Kent State was down to its last batter.
The series was tied 1-1, Dietrich Enns was on the mound, and the Golden Flashes had a man on second base when Jimmy Rider connected and sent the ball flying toward left field.
As everyone gasped, watching the ball's track, CMU junior Sam Russell rose up and made the catch as he slammed against the wall and the Chippewas dugout erupted, sealing a 5-4 victory Sunday and series win against Mid-American Conference East leading Kent State.
“On that last ball they hit you had a little bit of a sinking feeling,” said head coach Steve Jaksa. “He made the catch, hit the wall and held onto the ball. It is a big win for our guys against a good team.”
The win gave the Chippewas their third consecutive weekend series win and also marks the first weekend series the Golden Flashes have lost all season.
CMU (18-18 overall, 7-5 Mid-American Conference) got back to .500 overall with the win and Enns earned his fourth win of the season. The sophomore closer came in to pitch the final three innings of the game, striking out two and allowing one earned run.
The run came in the seventh inning when Kent State’s Travis Shaw hit a home run off of the left foul poll that gave the Golden Flashes a 4-3 lead. It was Shaw’s second homer and third RBI of the game. CMU only allowed two home runs against opponents at Theunissen Stadium all of last season.
Senior pitcher Jake Sabol was solid on the mound for CMU again Sunday, pitching six innings while only allowing two earned runs and striking out five batters.
“We really needed to win this series and this is going to catapult us going into the next series,” Sabol said. “For me, it is a confidence booster to show that I can do it against the likes of Kent State one of the better MAC teams.”
The Chippewas' biggest moment came in the bottom of the eighth inning when sophomore Jordan Dean struck out but was able to reach first base on a passed ball. Russell, the hero for CMU, came in and hit an RBI double to left that scored the game-tying run.
Senior Robbie Harman then stepped in and delivered an RBI single through the left side that scored Russell and gave the Chippewas the series win.
“He’s a senior and sometimes you have to trust your seniors in certain situations,” Jaksa said. “I did feel that Robbie was having some good at-bats. It was a big hit.”
This was a defining series win for the Chippewas, who struggled early on in the season in conference play. CMU won the first game on Friday in walk-off fashion and lost the second game 9-3 in what was a sloppy defensive performance. Now the team turns their attention to the first college game ever played at Comerica Park.
At 6:35 p.m. Wednesday night CMU will face in-state rival Michigan State at Comerica Park. It will be the second time the two teams meet this season as the Chippewas took the first game in East Lansing by a score of 3-1.
“Everyone is really excited just to be a part of the first college game played there,” Sabol said. “Playing in a big league park like that everyone is kind of pumped up.”