Don't count 'em out: Baseball team comes back in third consecutive game
Junior right fielder Matt Faiman had visions of his little league team dance through his mind Sunday afternoon.
Faiman connected on a walk-off double to drive in the winning run as the CMU baseball team rallied from five runs
down in the ninth inning to defeat Akron 9-8 before 342 at Theunissen Stadium, completing a three-game sweep.
“When I was younger — when we were 11 and 12 — we were called The Cardiac Kids because we always came back in the bottom of the sixth to win the game,” said Faiman, who went 4-for-5 with two runs batted in and two runs scored.
“I got down 0-2 and knew I had to hit the ball. I just put it in play — kept doing what I’ve been doing this whole time and just drove the ball.”
The Chippewas swept the Zips despite facing late deficits of at least three runs in each game. They came back from a 7-4 deficit Saturday to win 8-7, and responded to a 5-1 deficit with a 10-6 victory Friday.
CMU improves its record to 18-11 overall and 8-1 in the Mid-American Conference, remaining tied atop the West Division with Toledo for first place. It has won seven consecutive MAC games.
The team entered the last inning trailing 8-4 after leaving two runners on base in the eighth inning. Back-to-back pinch-hit singles from freshmen Jordan Dean and Jordan Adams and a single to left field by senior Billy Anderson loaded the bases.
A single by junior Brendan Emmett scored two and cut Akron’s lead to 8-6. Senior Dale Cornstubble (2-for-5, one RBI) followed suit with the team’s fifth consecutive single to cut the deficit to one.
Following a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Nate Theunissen (2-for-4), senior James Teas (2-for-5, one RBI) tied the game with an infield hit, setting up Faiman’s game-winning extra-base hit off the left-center wall.
“It’s pretty exhilarating,” said coach Steve Jaksa. “One of my guys said it best, it was like a laser show at the end — we hit every single ball hard. They just got in a good flow — they believed in themselves and they believed in what they were doing, and that makes a huge difference.”
The Chippewas faced their largest deficit in the sixth inning as the Zips scored three runs in the top half of the inning to take a 7-1 lead. Jaksa called a team meeting on the steps of the dugout between innings, stressing patience with Akron starter Benjamin Danziger, who retired CMU hitters in quick fashion the previous two innings.
CMU responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning — two came from a pinch-hit double from senior Tyler Kipkee — that started the comeback.
“The calmness in that whole meeting was just to let them know how the guy was pitching,” Jaksa said. “He was doing a nice job of getting the ball to sink, and we hit a lot of ground balls. Our goal was to see the ball up in the zone and make sure that it was there.”
OTHER SERIES WINS
A bases loaded walk-off single by James Teas in extra innings gave CMU an 8-7 win against Akron on Saturday.
The Chippewas, trailing 7-4, rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. Faiman went 4-for-5 with five RBIs to lead the team. Freshman left-hander Dietrich Enns pitched 3 and 2/3 innings in relief, allowing one run on three hits, to earn his third win of the season.
The Chippewas scored nine runs in the final four innings after falling behind 5-1 to beat the Zips 10-6 on Friday in Game 1.
CMU travels to Illinois-Chicago at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday.