Hankins nearly goes the distance as baseball takes final game, 3-1 over Northern Illinois

After a pair of offensive slugfests in games one and two, the Central Michigan baseball team won on the backs of its pitching staff Sunday.

Tyler Hankins nearly pitched his third complete game of the season as the freshman left-hander led the Chippewas to a 3-1 victory over Northern Illinois in the final game of the series at Theunissen Stadium.

The 6-foot-9 Bartlett, Illinois native pitched 8 2/3 innings before junior Colton Bradley came in to get the save (nine). Hankins (5-1) struck out four batters while allowing only four hits and one walk.

“I was just keeping the ball down and hitting my spots and my teammates made plays behind me, “Hankins said. “It’s really nice having an early lead and knowing you have your run support behind you and you just have to go out there and get the job done.”

CMU improves to 25-21 on the season and 13-5 in the Mid-American Conference.

For the second-straight game, senior Robert Greenman homered to get the scoring started for the Chippewas. Greenman homered to left-centerfield in the second inning after homering in the first inning of Saturday’s game.

In the fourth inning, junior Daniel Jipping popped out to leftfield, but an error by the NIU defenseman allowed sophomore Jason Sullivan to score. Jipping later scored off a sacrifice fly by sophomore Evan Kratt to make it 3-0.

Hankins and the Chippewas got into trouble in the ninth inning after the Huskies delivered a single and a double to bring the tying run to the plate. Bradley walked the tying runner, but struck out the final batter to end the game.

Head coach Steve Jaksa said Hankins rebounded well after suffering his first loss last weekend at Kent State.

“(He was) just outstanding,” Jaksa said. “After the week he had, we moved him one day and it worked out really well. He competed. He threw the ball where he wanted to, which is what we talked about in pre-game that if he could command the outside (plate) with that two-seam (fastball), stand him up with a ball inside and then he could throw the change.”

After getting blown out in game one, Central Michigan bounced back to take the series in convincing fashion. Jaksa said despite the Huskies strong offensive play most of the weekend, he is proud of his team’s ability to win in different ways.

“It is a constant maturing process to handle the ups and downs of the game,” he said. “(NIU) coach Kunigonis told me this is the best they’ve swung all year. We looked at the video yesterday and they were getting some hits off some quality pitches. But we were able to take two out of three.”

Up Next

The Chippewas head to Ann Arbor Tuesday for the first of a home-and-home series with Michigan. First pitch Tuesday is at 6 p.m. The second game starts at 4:05 p.m. Wednesday at Theunissen Stadium.