Baseball clinches share of MAC West Division with shutout performance at Toledo, needs one win to claim title outright
A convincing 15-0 win at Toledo Sunday guaranteed the Central Michigan baseball team a share of its second Mid-American Conference West Division title in three seasons and seventh in program history.
The Chippewas earned their first shut out win of the season with sophomore right-hander Dazon Cole on the mound. The Pontiac native received more than enough run support from an offense which collected 13 hits and 10 walks and scored its 15 runs in less than five innings.
To win the division outright, CMU only needs to win one game of its three-game series against Ball State starting Thursday at 4:05 p.m. at Theunissen Stadium.
With Sunday’s victory, Central Michigan improved to 28-23 on the season and 15-6 in MAC play. It leads the MAC West by three games over BSU and trails the East Division-leading Kent State Golden Flashes by two games for first place overall.
To win the conference title, the Chippewas will need help from the Ohio Bobcats, who host KSU this weekend.
“For us, there is still more we want to accomplish. The overall championship is still within reach. We recognize its out of our control, but we still want to do really well these next four games,” said head coach Steve Jaksa. “Thursday is a big one to start out strong, win the division outright and then pull for Ohio. Who knows what could take place.”
After an 11-7 defeat on Saturday against the Rockets, CMU held a team meeting to discuss what needed to be fixed for the series finale game — a critical contest in the conference standings and for the club’s confidence.
“We weren’t quite pleased with how we played on Saturday,” Jaksa said. “We had a little gathering and (I) thought the guys responded really well and came out and played really hard. We pitched really well and were good in all facets of the game. The big thing is we want to continue to carry that over game-by-game.”
Cole (3-5), went seven innings on Sunday, allowing only six hits and two walks while accumulating three strikeouts. Freshmen Cameron Brown and Zach Kohn came in to pitch the eighth and ninth innings and finish the shutout performance.
Junior Nick Stokowski led the team with three hits (two RBIs) on the day, while junior Daniel Jipping (three RBIs), and sophomores Evan Kratt (two RBIs) and Jason Sullivan (two RBIs) added two hits.
The Chippewas took two of three games at Toledo’s Scott Park and have won six of their seven MAC series this season.
CMU hosts Michigan State Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. at Theunissen Stadium before wrapping up the regular season with the Cardinals.
The MAC Tournament begins on Wednesday, May 24, in Avon, Ohio and ends with the championship on Saturday, May 28. The tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which starts on Friday, June 2.