Baseball one win away from MAC Tournament championship
Cam Brown forced a ground out in the top of the ninth inning against Ball State and fired the ball to first base for the Central Michigan baseball team's first complete game of the season.
The timing could not have been any better for the junior right-hander to complete that feat, as he did so in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Brown (W, 10-0) helped the No. 1 seed Chippewas (45-12) earn a berth in the MAC championship game with an 8-2 victory, the 17th straight for CMU, over the No. 2 seed Cardinals (37-18) on May 24 at Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
The Pontiac native allowed just two runs (one earned) on three hits, three walks and punched out seven Cardinals while firing 132 pitches over the nine innings.
Both of those runs that Brown allowed were plated in the first inning which was capped by Ball State right fielder Ross Messina scoring on a throwing error from CMU senior second baseman Jason Sullivan.
Ball State starter John Baker (L, 7-2) was strong in the first two innings, then yielded a run to sophomore right fielder Chase Rollin to cut the Cardinal lead in half in the third inning.
The teams were stymied as neither scored until the seventh inning-
That was when CMU took over.
With back-to-back Cardinal throwing errors, the Chippewas put runners on the corners for senior first baseman Evan Kratt to knock a base hit and score freshman designated hitter Garrett Navarra to tie the game at 2-2.
Later in the inning, junior third baseman Zach Heeke gave CMU the lead as he scored senior left fielder David Cole with a single to right.
The seven-run seventh inning was capped by a single from Cole, which scored Sullivan as the Chippewas batted around the order in the inning.
CMU head coach Jordan Bischel said that dominant pitching would defeat any approach in the batter's box but proud of his team to find a way around Baker.
"We didn't let it snowball on us," Bischel said. "We just kept playing and hoped to get into a good position and we did a really good job competing and battling."
With its win in the semifinal, CMU is one win away from its first MAC Tournament title since 1995, which coincides with its last appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Chippewas will await the winner of the Ball State-Northern Illinois elimination game with first pitch scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on May 25 at Sprenger Stadium. The winner will face CMU in the night cap of a doubleheader with first pitch for that game scheduled for 6 p.m. again in Sprenger Stadium.
Should CMU lose, the two teams will replay the game the next day at noon as a winner-take-all finale.