Baseball escapes late Ohio threat, gets sweep
With two runners on base and the go-ahead run at the plate in the ninth inning of Game 2 in Sunday’s doubleheader, Ohio threatened to take its first lead of the series.
But a diving catch by senior Tyler Kipke in left field saved the game for the Central Michigan baseball team, which held on to win 4-2 and complete the series sweep at Theunissen Stadium.
CMU (14-10, 5-1 Mid-American Conference) remains in a tie for first place in the West Division with Toledo and Ball State.
“I was just trying to get a beat on (the ball),” Kipke said. “He put a pretty good swing on it and the wind had been blowing in all game, so we're trying not to let anything get over our heads. I got lucky enough to get back and caught it just enough that I could make a play on it.”
The Chippewas took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning after an RBI-double by sophomore Nate Theunissen (3-for-3, two RBIs) and two-run home run by freshman Jordan Adams.
Ohio (3-21, 5-1 MAC), sensing a sweep, picked up its second run of the game in the eighth inning to cut CMU’s lead to 4-2. However, with a runner on second and third with two outs, sophomore reliever Trent Howard got Bobcats left fielder Robert Maddox III to fly out to end the threat.
Junior right-hander Jake Sabol picked up the win, his third of the season, allowing one earned run on seven hits in six innings pitched.
“I felt good. I felt crisp on the mound. My stuff was working and I was able to get ground balls and battled through my mistakes,” Sabol said. “I’ve been feeling good every time I go out there, but it’s always nice to go out and put up a couple of zeros (runs allowed in innings).”
The Chippewas capitalized on several Ohio base-running blunders, including two instances in the second and third innings where Ohio hitters were thrown out trying to extend singles into doubles.
“We practice that and we do those things every single time and it worked out today,” said coach Steve Jaksa. “I commend our outfielders for (doing) the things that we work on. When you are in these kinds of games and make those kinds of things happen, you have a chance to win.”
Despite getting out-hit 17-13, the Chippewas scored nine runs in the second inning en route to a 15-8 win in the first game of the doubleheader.
CMU did all of its damage with two outs, too, as a stolen base by junior Matt Faiman and double by freshman Jordan Dean started the rally. OU starting pitcher Brock Trimbur was pulled after hitting Robbie Harman with a pitch and walking three consecutive batters, two resulting in runs.
The inning continued as the Chippewas scored three runs on three hits, including a three-run double from Faiman (2-for-5, five RBIs) against Ohio reliever Michael Dillon.
The Bobcats scored eight runs after CMU extended its lead to 14-0, including a five-run eighth inning.
Sophomore Rick Dodridge (3-1, 1.62 ERA) took the win, allowing one earned run on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
“I thought our starting pitching this whole weekend was very good,” Jaksa said. “When you have quality starting pitching, you’re going to have a chance to do very well in a series and make it tough on other teams to beat you.”
Senior James Teas, who had been in the lineup as the designated hitter earlier in the week, returned to his position at third base and went 3-for-5 with an RBI and run scored.
“It’s a continuum — you’re playing at home and you want to play well and defend it in a Mid-American Conference series,” Jaksa said. “It’s always tough to sweep somebody in this conference. We were able to do that, playing three quality games.”