Baseball tops Broncos with major production from middle of lineup
The Cental Michigan baseball team (30-12, 12-5 Mid-American Conference) beat Western Michigan (13-24, 6-8 MAC) by a score of 6-1 in a 1 p.m. contest on April 27 at Theunissen Stadium.
Senior outfielder David Crum, senior second baseman Jason Sullivan and sophomroe Griffin Lockwood-Powell combined for seven hits and all six runs in the victory.
“We talk about all nine needing to put pressure on all game long, and I thought we did that,” manager Jordan Bischel said. “It just so happened those guys came up with the big hits today, but a really good middle of the order there, it’s tough to get them out on a regular basis.”
Starting pitcher Pat Leatherman collected the win to improve to 5-1 on the season. He allowed only one earned run on three hits and nine strikeouts in seven innings of work on the mound in what may well be his final time pitching against the Broncos.
“You can’t put too much on it even though it’s a rivalry, but knowing that’s the last time I’ll play them unless we play them in the MAC Tournament and because it’s here at Theunissen, it kinda means a lot to go out that way against them,” Leatherman said.
How it happened
The Chippewas drew first blood in the bottom of the second inning. Following back-to-back singles by Crum and Sullivan, freshman outfielder Garrett Navara drove home Crum on a single to take a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the third, the Broncos countered with a run of their own. Three singles brought in a run, and WMU had the bases juiced before Leatherman ended the threat with a strikeout for the third out.
CMU reclaimed its lead in the bottom of the frame by plating two more runs. Sophomore catcher Griffin Lockwood-Powell laced a single with one out, and then Crum and Sullivan delivered again, pounding consecutive doubles. Sullivan’s two-bagger scored Lockwood-Powell and Crum, making it a 3-1 ballgame.
Lockwood-Powell crossed the plate again in the bottom of the fifth on a single by junior third baseman Zach Heeke, and after forcing a walk, Sullivan stole home to extend the Chippewas’ lead to 5-1.
The Chippewas threatened once more in the bottom of the seventh inning. Sullivan connected for his third hit of the afternoon, and Heeke’s double sent Sullivan to third. Navarra grounded out to first, and when the WMU first baseman threw to second, Heeke found himself stranded between second and third base. As Heeke ran toward third, Sullivan made a break for home, hoping he’d beat the throw to the catcher.
However, the throw was slightly off-target, causing the catcher to reposition. Sullivan took advantage of the adjustment and slid past the tag and the plate, then scrambled back to touch home as the players in CMU’s dugout celebrated his elusive move.
“We made maybe a little mistake there on the rundown, but we got an aggresive play and a big slide,” Bischel said. “We practice the heck out of that and some games it never comes into play, but other games it can come into play and win you a game here and there.”
Junior pitcher Grant Frazer relieved Leatherman to start the eighth inning and secured the save, his second of the season.
The Chippewas square off against the Broncos and will attempt to sweep the three-game series in a 1 p.m. matchup on April 28 at Theunissen Stadium.