Baseball splits four-game series with Troy, opens season 2-2
In his first season as the Central Michigan baseball coach, Jordan Bischel's ballclub dropped back-to-back games to open the 2019 campaign.
However, the Chippewas bounced back with two victories for a four-game series split against Troy in Alabama at Riddle-Pace Field.
Starting pitchers Cameron Brown and Zach Kohn each earned wins on the mound while outfielder Zach Gilles opened his junior season 7-of-14 at the plate. Sophomores Gaoshua Williams, Zavier Warren and Griffin Lockwood-Powell all launched home runs.
Tied 1-1 in the seventh inning, Troy's Reed Smith hit a two-run homer off left-hander Jack Collins (0-1) in the seventh inning to help his team earn a 3-2 victory on Feb. 15.
Ryan Fultz picked up the win in the opening game of the series. Rush Hixon threw the final two innings for the six-out save.
Eleven baserunners were stranded by the Chippewas. Of the 11, eight were in scoring position. With a chance to mount a comeback, CMU left the bases loaded in the top of the eighth.
"I thought our guys did a nice job coming out and playing our style of baseball," Bischel said. "We did a lot of things well."
Senior right-handed pitcher Pat Leatherman started on the bump and struck out seven hitters in five innings tossed. He allowed one baserunner on a walk, which ended in a run scored by the Trojans. Other than that, Leatherman's slate was clean.
"Pat's biggest asset is his experience and his mentality," Bischel said. "He understands how to prepare and how to pitch and his preparation paid off tonight."
Troy took the opening game of the Feb. 16 doubleheader on Drew Frederic's two-out RBI double in the bottom of the eighth, breaking the tie for a 7-6 win.
For the Chippewas, junior left-hander Tyler Hankins gave up six runs on 11 hits and two walks throughout five innings. He struck out six hitters. Lance Johnson earned the win for the Trojans.
Warren, with CMU and Troy tied at five runs each, smashed his first-career home run in the fifth inning for a 6-5 edge.
"Zavier really has the potential to be a phenomenal player for us," Bischel said. "It was great to see him take some good swings in big spots."
Sophomore righty Jordan Patty (0-1) took the loss due to allowing one run on three hits and one walk.
In the second game of the doubleheader – and third event of the season – Bischel picked up his first career win as CMU's skipper, 5-3.
Sophomore right-hander Logan Buczkowski had two outs with two runners on when he got a strikeout in the bottom of the ninth inning to secure a two-run victory on Feb. 16.
"Today had two more hard-fought games," Bischel said. "It will really help us as the season progresses to have been in challenging situations in a tough road setting."
Buczkowski threw 2 1/3 innings without allowing a hit. He struck out four and walked one while earning the save.
CMU's starter, Brown (1-0), struck out six hitters. He allowed just one run on four hits in six innings. Troy's Max Newton took the loss.
"Cam Brown did a great job attacking hitters tonight and our defense played well behind him," Bischel said.
On the offensive side, Lockwood-Powell tossed a two-run double into the gap to help produce a three-run seventh inning. Back in the fourth inning, he hit a home run to right field.
Facing an opportunity to split the four-game series on Feb. 17, Bischel sent Kohn to the hill for his debut appearance in 2019.
In six innings, Kohn (1-0) kept Troy off the scoreboard, giving up just three hits and two walks. He struck out four to hand the Chippewas a 5-2 victory.
"Zach has really prepared hard in the preseason, and it paid off today," Bischel said. "He attacked the strike zone like crazy."
Warren, Gilles and Jason Sullivan produced RBIs while Jacob Crum stole home for a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Williams homered to left field to give CMU a 5-0 edge in the fifth.
Cameron Miller picked up the save for CMU. Troy's Sadler Goodwin took the loss.
The Chippewas travel to Beaumont, Texas to participate in Cardinal Classic from Feb. 22-23. CMU plays four total games – two against Lamar and two against Prairie View A&M.