Jaksa's call, comeback makes win special

MIDLAND — The fifth inning of Wednesday’s game against Michigan State at Dow Diamond was one of the wilder innings the CMU baseball team played this season.

The Spartans had already left five men on base leading up to the that inning, but MSU freshman Torsten Boss batted a run in with a single, giving MSU its third run of the inning.

Prior to the fifth, both pitchers cruised through four innings.

But when sophomore Scott Phillion started the bottom of the fifth inning with a single, a familiar feeling was in the ballpark, and it led to another come-from-behind win, as CMU beat MSU 6-3.

Senior Billy Anderson singled to score a run and put a runner on third as well.

But coach Steve Jaksa made an underrated decision — perhaps the move of the game. He sent Anderson to steal second, erasing the threat of an inning-ending double play.

After the catcher dropped the strikeout-pitch to put away junior Brendan Emmett, the ensuing throw to first was not caught by the first baseman. And while Emmett was safe at first, Dean came around from second to score.

And it was all made possible by Jaksa’s call.

A week-and-a-half prior to the game, the team won three games via comeback to sweep Akron and gain control of the Mid-American Conference West Division. At Dow Dimaond, the team was at it again.

It was senior James Teas who had a walk-off hit on April 10 to give the Chippewas an 8-7 extra-inning win against Akron.

Teas came through again Wednesday, sending a line drive over the second baseman’s head to score senior Dale Cornstubble and Emmett and give CMU a two-run lead. They never looked back.

“The nice thing is, we were able to respond right away,” Jaksa said. “We got an inning going, they made their one mistake and that opened the gate for us to get a few runs and go up 5-3.”

The Chippewas (21-13, 10-2 Mid-American Conference) are in first place in the MAC West and seem to keep finding new ways to win games.

All season, they have won by being persistent, playing the next inning as hard as the last inning and having consistent pitching.

Wednesday’s win against Michigan State was a perfect example. It might have been easy to take the rest of the night off after falling by three runs halfway through the game. But CMU has made a habit of doing more than it is expected to do.