Central Michigan baseball secures MAC regular season title
All the Central Michigan baseball team needed to seal the Mid-American Conference regular season title was a win.
For the 15th straight time, the Chippewas secured a win. This one was a 10-3 victory over Miami (Ohio) on May 18 at Theunissen Stadium.
The Chippewas (43-12, 22-5) won the MAC regular season title for the third time since 2010, with the other coming in 2015 after sweeping the RedHawks (36-17, 15-11). With doing so, CMU will now have the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament, scheduled from May 22-26. Head coach Jordan Bischel said heading into the conference tournament should not change the mentality that he and his team has had all season.
"We've got to enjoy it," Bischel said. "On the outside looking in, people always say the conference tournament is the most important because the winner moves on. But to me, this is more meaningful because you play everyone three times and you have to go out there and win. That's the best way to determine a champion."
After the RedHawks scored the game's first run in the top of the second inning, the Chippewas returned fire in the bottom half.
CMU loaded the bases with two outs, and sophomore left fielder Chase Rollin singled up the middle, which scored two runs for its first lead of the game.
Miami threatened in the top of the fifth inning as a double from shortstop Will Vogelsang put runners on second and third with one out.
However, junior right-hander Jordan Patty slammed the door shut by earning a strikeout and a fly out against the next two batters.
In the bottom half of the same inning, CMU loaded the bases with base hits from Rollin and junior third baseman Zach Heeke and an error from the Miami second baseman. Rollin scored after the right fielder dropped a routine pop fly for the second RedHawk error of the inning.
The Chippewas blew the game wide open in the sixth inning as they were able to load the bases for the third time in the contest.
Senior first baseman Evan Kratt scored on a wild pitch. Next, junior center fielder Zach Gilles pushed two across with a double to right field that hit first base and ricocheted away from the Miami first baseman. Gilles later scored on a passed ball to cap the five-run sixth inning.
The RedHawks struck for two runs in the top of the eighth inning with a two-run home run from Landon Stephens off of junior right-hander Zach Kohn. The ball left the yard quickly, as it made its way to amongst the pine trees behind the right-field wall.
Patty (W, 3-2) was dominant in his 6 2/3 innings pitched. He allowed just one run (earned) on five hits and struck out four RedHawks in arguably the biggest start of his CMU career and exited to a standing ovation from the Theunissen Stadium crowd.
"I've watched Jordan pitch big games before with Legion and his high school, who were very good," Bischel said. "I said, 'it's just another big game but on a different stage,' he's always risen to the occasion and he sure did today."
Sophomore shortstop Xavier Warren doubled to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning for the 22nd time this season, which is a new CMU single-season record.
"(Warren) had a solid freshman year here," Bischel said. "But the way he's broken out this year, I've got to vote a player for conference player of the year and between him and (Lockwood-Powell), I have to overlook somebody."
In his final appearance at Theunissen Stadium, senior second baseman Jason Sullivan pushed across two runners on a base hit to left-center field.
CMU increased its lead to 10-3 before Kohn worked a four-batter inning to end the game in a dogpile of celebration.
The Chippewas will have the No. 1 seed at the MAC Tournament in Avon, Ohio and will play their first game on May 23. Due to having the top seed, CMU will have the choice to play at either 2 p.m. or 6 p.m.