Baseball outguns Northern Illinois to complete series sweep


Senior outfielder Jacob Crum triples to center field as the men's baseball team faces Northern Illinois March 29 at Theunissen Stadium.

In the third and final game of the series between Central Michigan and Northern Illinois, the Chippewas drew first blood.

Compiling 15 hits and a 10-run sixth inning, the Chippewas (19-7, 5-1 Mid-American Conference) pulled off a 14-10 series sweep of the Huskies (7-20, 3-3 MAC) on March 30 at Theunissen Stadium. 

How it happened

After putting runners on the corners in the bottom of the first with consecutive two-out singles by junior outfielder Zach Gilles and sophomore first baseman Griffin Lockwood-Powell, senior outfielder Jacob Crum walked to load the bases. Senior infielder Jason Sullivan then got a free pass as well, forcing in a run.

In the top of the third, NIU tied the game with a double, then proceeded to load the bases with to outs. However, starting pitcher Thomas Hankins was able to avoid further trouble, throwing a smooth breaking ball for a strikeout that ended the inning.

Crum led off the bottom of the inning with a stand-up triple to deep center field. With two outs, CMU loaded the bases but was unable to turn it into runs.

The score held at 1-1 until the bottom of the fifth, when singles by Crum and Sullivan turned into two runs after senior catcher Evan Kratt pounded a double into left field to make it a 3-1 ballgame.

The Huskies wasted no time in taking over the lead.

Two singles and a double resulted in a run, whereupon Bischel decided it was time to end Hankins’ afternoon in the top of the sixth with one out. Freshman pitcher Garrett Willis took over on the mound and inherited runners on second and third.

He threw one pitch, then grimaced as he watched it clear the left field wall for a home run.

Willis settled well and struck out the next two batters to end the inning, but the damage was already done and the Chippewas found themselves down 5-3.

CMU made a strong rebuttal, loading the bases to start the bottom of the sixth.

It was then that the Chippewas completely unloaded on the Huskies, scoring a whopping 10 runs in the frame.

Lockwood-Powell laced a single up the third base line to score junior third baseman Zach Heeke and junior shortstop Zavier Warren. 

After reloading the bases, the Chippewas tallied two more runs after Sullivan and sophomore outfielder Chase Rollin walked. 

The Chippewas showed no signs of slowing their roll. Still with no outs, Kratt came through again with a single that allowed Crum and Sullivan to cross the plate. 

Heeke knocked in two more runs on a double, which was followed by a line drive by Warren that drove in yet another pair of Chippewas to give them a 13-5 lead heading into the seventh.

CMU scratched out another run in the eighth on a Sullivan sacrifice fly that plated Warren.

The Huskies made a last-ditch effort that had CMU reeling. NIU scored two runs in the top of the ninth due to a pair of ugly Chippewa errors, then got three more runs on a deep shot to center field. 

Eventually, however, CMU gathered itself and made two final outs to clinch a 14-10 victory.

Nine Chippewas had at least one hit in the win. Kratt paced the group with two hits and four RBI, while Lockwood-Powell had three hits and two RBI and Sullivan added two hits and three RBI.

Willis recorded the first win of his collegiate career. Senior pitcher Jack Collins got the save.

Up Next

The Chippewas travel to South Bend to play Notre Dame (11-12, 6-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) at 6 p.m. April 2.