Baseball routs Ohio in MAC Tournament opener
When Zavier Warren hit a solo home run in the first inning for Central Michigan's baseball team, few would speculate that the sophomore shortstop would put the No. 1 seed Chippewas ahead for good.
That speculation rang true as CMU thrashed No. 6 Ohio, 18-9, in the Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
Moving on to the semifinals, the Chippewas (44-12) push their winning streak to 16 games with the win over the Bobcats (19-32). The win put themselves just two victories away from the MAC Tournament championship, their first since 1995 and would translate to their first NCAA Tournament the same year.
Warren's round-tripper was the springboard for a big offensive day for both him and his team as CMU knocked around 17 hits, Warren had four of them. He also walked twice in a day where he saw the batter's box seven times.
The Chippewas opened the game by scoring 11 runs in the first four innings, including four in the first. Pitching mistakes from Ohio's Eddie Kutt caused problems for the Bobcats. He hit senior second baseman Jason Sullivan and then threw a wild pitch which allowed senior right fielder Jacob Crum to score and cap the four-run inning.
CMU turned around and scored one run in the second inning, four in the third and added two more in the fourth inning.
At that point, senior right-hander Pat Leatherman (W, 10-1) had not allowed a runner to score. That would change in the fifth as he allowed a leadoff triple to Treyben Funderberg and a home run Tanner Piechnick.
Leatherman ended his day after five complete innings and allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits, walking two and striking out five.
A combined effort of freshman left-hander Garrett Willis, senior left-hander Jack Collins, freshman left-hander Ryan Palmblad, freshman right-hander Ian Leatherman, sophomore right-hander Logan Buczkowski and junior left-hander Tyler Hankins would round out the victory, doubling up the Bobcats.
The Chippewas later scored four runs in the sixth inning, capped by a two-run single from Sullivan. They scored three more in the seventh inning, as Warren came across for the fourth time in the game on a wild pitch.
A scary moment involving Crum took place when he was hit by a pitch in the neck and head area. He was on the turf of Sprenger Stadium for around five minutes and walked off the field. He was not able to continue in the game and his condition is unknown.
The Chippewas move on to the semifinals where they await the winner of the Ball State-Northern Illinois matchup. The Cardinals are the No. 2 seed coming off a first-round bye, while the Huskies are the No. 5 seed and upset No. 4 Miami (Ohio), 4-0, in the first round.