Baseball takes two in three-game weekend series
Twenty-four runs on 17 hits in the first game set up a three-game series win for the Central Michigan baseball team against Hofstra, Butler and Pittsburgh.
The Chippewas (8-3) took down Hofstra in game one on Saturday, lost a tightly contested battle to Butler in Saturday's second game and capped off the weekend on Sunday with a 4-3 win against Pittsburgh at Osceola Park in the Russmatt Central Florida Invitational.
First-year coach Jordan Bischel's group returns to the field from March 5-6 for a two-game series against Saint Peter's in Kissimmee, Florida.
Sophomore Griffin Lockwood-Powell got the scoring started with an RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Chippewas went on to score four runs in the second, six runs in the fourth and 13 runs in the sixth.
CMU blew through Hofstra (2-6) in game one on March 2 in a 24-7 victory, its seventh-straight time finding the win column.
"We teach a hitting approach that should make every out tough to earn," Bischel said. "And we were really consistent, one through nine, in that game. When you do that It wears a pitching staff down."
Lockwood-Powell and sophomore Zavier Warren each notched four RBIs, while senior outfielder Jacob Crum went 4-for-5 at the plate with one walk and three runs scored. Outfielder Gaoshua Williams blasted a solo home run, his second of the season.
Firing off the hill was junior right-handed pitcher Cameron Brown (3-0), who allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. Righty Grant Frazer and freshman lefty Garrett Navarra threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings before sophomore left-hander Brandon Reed issued two runs to Hofstra in the final inning.
Hofstra's Brad Camarda (1-1) took the loss.
In the first inning, Zach Gillies delivered an RBI single for a 1-0 lead against Butler. From that point on, the bats were nonexistent.
The Bulldogs (5-5) took advantage of the struggles to take a 5-1 win against the Chippewas in game two on March 2.
"Obviously we would have liked to have produced more in game two, but we also have to tip our cap to outstanding pitching performances by Butler," Bischel said. "Overall we played hard and with good energy on a long, warm day."
Butler infielder Zach Jarosz doubled to tie the game in the top of the second before the team added one run in the fourth, two in the fifth and one more in the sixth. Right-hander Ryan Pepiot (1-1) fired six innings of one-run ball, striking out 11 and walking just three. Righty Jack Myers got his first save of the season.
On the other end, junior right-hander Zach Kohn (2-1) lasted 4 2/3 innings, but he was eventually chased and tagged with the loss. Right-handed pitchers Cameron Miller and Pat Leatherman threw for CMU in relief.
Bischel, following the loss to Butler, said his team was "banged up" and players needed to "rise to the challenge" against Pittsburgh.
Well, the Chippewas did just that.
Warren doubled to right field to score junior infielder Zach Heeke, Lockwood-Powell reached on an error to drive in Warren and Crum scored on a wild pitch for an early 3-0 lead against the Panthers.
In the second, another error allowed Sullivan to reach first base and Warren to score, taking a 4-0 edge after two frames.
Leatherman (2-0), who pitched two innings the day prior, fired five innings in a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh on March 3 to take the weekend series, but it didn't come without a lockdown performance from the bullpen.
"Our pitching and defense did an outstanding job of making it hard to score," Bischel said. "It was a struggle to get the big hit today. It's a credit to our guys that they still found a way to get a win."
Outfielder Connor Perry homered in the third and freshman infielder Duff hit an RBI-double down the left field line against Leatherman in the third and fourth innings, respectively.
Following the fifth, the ball was handed over to left-hander Jack Collins out of the bullpen. He gave up a run in the eighth inning as freshman Kyle Hess singled to score senior catcher Cole MacLaren. Hess' RBI trimmed Pittsburgh's deficit to 4-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Sophomore right-hander Logan Buczkowski entered the ninth and issued a two-out walk, putting the tying runner on base. However, he slammed the door with a strikeout to solidify the one-run win against the Panthers (6-4).
"Logan does an outstanding job of staying composed and not letting the situation get too big for him," Bischel said. "When you combine that with his outstanding ability it makes him hard to beat in the ninth."