Baseball looks to maintain top spot in MAC West against NIU

The CMU baseball team looks to hold on to first place in the Mid-American Conference at 4 p.m. today in DeKalb, Ill., when it starts a weekend series against Northern Illinois.

The Chippewas (23-15 overall, 11-4 MAC) are in a first place tie with Ball State for the West Division lead. NIU is 15-24 overall and 6-9 in the conference.

Sophomore first basemen Nate Theunissen said this is an important weekend for the team to maintain its first place lead.

“It is going to be real big. We need to get back on the winning track in the MAC,” Theunissen said. “Everyone is really hungry for this MAC win. The team is really ready for this weekend.”

CMU relinquished its solo lead for first place last weekend after losing both games of a doubleheader on Saturday against Ball State.

NIU has won four of its last six games, including a 6-1 win on Sunday over third-place Toledo (24-17, 10-5 MAC). Senior Dave Reynolds leads the Huskies with a .312 batting average and 19 runs batted in. He has started in every game this season for NIU.

Senior right-hander Jesse Hernandez (6-1, 4.07 ERA) will get the start for the Chippewas today and is looking for team-leading seventh win of the season.

“There is no question we are going to be ready to play,” said coach Steve Jaksa. “We are confident and I like our guys’ attitude. We have to play well on Friday and take it one day at a time.”

Freshman Dietrich Enns (4-0) will make his second start of the season on Saturday for CMU and looks to keep his hot streak going.

He has a 1.14 earned run average with 39 strikeouts and has only allowed five earned runs in his last 39.1 innings pitched.


Sunday’s starter has yet to be determined as junior left-hander Jake Sabol pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and striking out four, in Wednesday’s 10-9 loss against Oakland University.

“I think our morale is good,” Jaksa said. “I think our guys are a confident group. You don’t want to let it just roll off of your back, but we think we are a good team and we have to make sure we are ready to play.”

CMU let a two-run eighth-inning lead slip away as errors allowed the Golden Grizzlies to score three runs and come-from-behind in Wednesday’s win.

Senior third baseman James Teas had three hits and two RBIs, while walking twice for the Chippewas. Sophomore outfielder Sam Russell added a hit and three RBIs.

Sophomore left-hander Rick Dodridge started for CMU, pitching 4 1/3 innings and allowing seven earned runs while striking out four.

The Chippewas are on the road until May 11 when they face Oakland in a rematch at Theunissen Stadium.