Leatherman, Sullivan deliver big outings to lift baseball over Northern Illinois in MAC Tournament opener


Sophomore Pitcher Pat Leatherman reaches back against Miami University, April 2 at Theunissen Stadium. 

One down, four to go for the Central Michigan baseball team.

The No. 2 seeded Chippewas defeated No. 7 Northern Illinois, 6-2 in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Tuesday in Avon, Ohio.

Sophomores Pat Leatherman and Jason Sullivan stole the show for CMU on the day. Leatherman threw a career-high 11 strikeouts, while Sullivan drove in three RBIs to lead Central Michigan into the second round.

The Chippewas (30-26) will face off with rival Western Michigan at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

After allowing the leadoff hitter to double and later come in to score, Leatherman (7-4) responded with seven remaining scoreless innings and only allowed three hits and four walks.

The Jenison native threw 134 pitches on the day — five less than the entire NIU pitching staff— on his way to claiming the victory. Senior Jordan Grosjean and junior Colton Bradley each came in and pitched an inning in relief to finish the game.

With the pitching staff making quick work of the Huskies’ lineup, the CMU offense took advantage and notched six-straight runs to blow the game open.

Sullivan got the scoring started with a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the third inning and followed that up with a 2-RBI single in the fourth inning.

Senior Alex Borglin also drove in an RIB-single as part of the Chippewas’ three-run fourth inning, with freshman Zach Gilles drawing a bases-loaded walk to score sophomore Evan Kratt.

Central Michigan took two of three games from the Broncos in Mount Pleasant in mid-April. WMU knocked out CMU in the tournament semifinal last season on its way to winning the championship.