Baseball takes two of three final games on spring break trip
Winning 10 of its last 11 games coming into the final three-game series of spring break, the Central Michigan baseball team was faced with Mount St. Mary's and two contests against Villanova.
The Chippewas topped Mount St. Mary's on March 8, defeated Villanova on March 9 and eventually fell on March 10 to the Wildcats in the finale, improving coach Jordan Bischel's 2019 record to 12-4 on the season.
CMU allowed just two runs in the first two matches before falling 13-7 at the end of the three-game weekend series.
"As a whole, it was a very productive trip for us," Bischel said on Sunday. "While today was disappointing, we played our style of baseball the majority of the trip."
Right-hander pitcher Cameron Brown (4-0) tossed six innings, allowing just one run on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. The Chippewa bats backed him up with a nine-run fourth inning for a 13-1 lead against Mount St. Mary's on Friday.
From that point on, both teams went scoreless.
"Cameron Brown did a very good job of attacking the strike zone and letting us settle in offensively," Bischel said. "He executed pitches very well tonight. It was great to see our offense put together a big inning."
Junior Jason Sullivan singled to score sophomore Zavier Warren to open the game with a 1-0 edge in the first inning. During the ensuing inning, the Mountaineers picked up their only run of the contest on an RBI single off the bat of Trevor Leamer.
The three-run third and nine-run fourth put the nail in the coffin early for the Chippewas.
Warren finished 3-for-5, junior Zach Heeke went 3-for-4, redshirt sophomore Griffin Lockwood-Powell managed three RBIs in a 3-for-5 performance, while sophomore Goashua Williams added three RBIs on one hit, which was a bases-clearing triple in the fourth.
Mount St. Mary's left-hander Andrew Malone allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings of work. He fell to 0-1 on the season.
For the second and third games on March 9-10, respectively, the Chippewas took on Villanova.
CMU opened the two-game duel with a 9-1 win on Saturday behind a 10-strikeout performance from senior right-handed starter Pat Leatherman. He gave up just one run (none earned) on three hits and one walk in five innings pitched. Of the 20 batters he faced, Leatherman (3-0) struck out half.
Lockwood-Powell was 3-for-5 with four RBIs, while Gilles chipped in a three-hit, two-run contest.
Lockwood-Powell gave the Chippewas a 2-1 edge in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI single to left field, then he made it 4-1 in the fifth on a double down the left field line to score Gilles.
Last but not least, CMU's slugger added two more RBIs on a double to left center in the eighth for a 9-1 lead, which held solid through the final frame.
Sophomore righty Cameron Miller, at 6-foot-10, tossed three innings of no-hit baseball in relief of Leatherman before junior Grant Frazer slammed the door with a clean ninth inning.
Leatherman currently owns a 1.71 ERA and 0.86 WHIP throughout four starts in the 2019 season. Villanova freshman right-hander Gordon Graceffo dropped to 0-2.
In the second inning of the Sunday game, Villanova tagged junior right-handed starter Zach Kohn for four runs to set the tone for the remainder of the battle.
The Wildcats eventually picked up a 13-7 win over the Chippewas, as Kohn (2-2) allowed nine runs (six earned) on six hits and two walks.
"Villanova deserves a lot of credit for being prepared to play today, they swung the bat extremely well," Bischel said. "Our pitching and defense left the door open for some big innings. Villanova did a great job taking advantage."
Sophomore righty Jimmy Kingsbury (1-1) earned the win for the Wildcats despite his rocky outing, issuing four runs on 10 hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out five Chippewa batters.
CMU got three runs back in the third inning on Warren's single and Gilles' two-run triple to right center, but Villanova struck for six runs in the fourth inning for a 10-3 edge.
Even though the Chippewas put up one run in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the eighth, Villanova's early edge, accompanied with a few runs later in the game, was too much for CMU to overcome.
Relieving Kohn, left-hander Jack Collins, righty Logan Buczkowski and righty Ian Leatherman threw the final 4 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs.
The Chippewas don't return to the diamond until a four-game series against Illinois State from March 15-17. Mid-American Conference play begins shortly after on March 22.