Baseball takes down Miami with late-inning success, extends winning streak
Spencer Mraz had a strong start to his outing against the Central Michigan baseball team.
Miami (Ohio)'s junior right-hander was perfect through the first three innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He seemed destined to end the Chippewas' 13-game winning streak on May 17 at Theunissen Stadium.
For the first five-and-a-half innings, that thought looked as though it would become reality. In the bottom of the sixth, however, the Chippewas found a way to grit out runs, just as they have all season.
The Mid-American Conference foes went back and forth with Miami (36-16, 15-10) scoring its first two runs in the second inning. CMU (42-12, 21-5) flexed its muscles in the fifth inning to tie the game. A RedHawk home run in the sixth put them ahead before the Chippewas would take the lead for good in the bottom half.
CMU then scored seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings combined on the way to a commanding 11-4 victory to take the series from the RedHawks and set up a dramatic conclusion to the final day of the regular season.
As these two teams were doing battle, Toledo had a one-run lead on Ball State heading into the final inning. A win for CMU and a loss for the Cardinals would have given the Chippewas the MAC regular season championship following the last out. But Ball State scored two runs on a pinch-hit walk off single to keep pace with CMU.
The title decision will have to wait until the final day of the regular season.
No matter the result of the Cardinals and Rockets matchup in Muncie, Indiana, if the Chippewas can defeat Miami one more time, sweep the series and push their win streak to 15 games, they will be MAC regular season champions.
However, a CMU loss and a BSU win would give the latter the title based on winning percentage. The Chippewas would be at .778, whereas the Cardinals would finish their season at .800 in the conference.
Chippewa coach Jordan Bischel said that he is excited for the regular season finale because of what it means to his team.
"We get a chance to play with a lot on the line," Bischel said. "Anytime you're playing the last game of the season with the championship on the line, you've got nothing to hang your head about and you've got to enjoy those experiences. Lots of kids don't get that chance so you've got to enjoy it."
Enjoying the ride and having fun has been the first-year coach's philosophy. Now his Chippewas are in position to win the MAC regular season crown for the 14th time in school history and the third time since 2010 (2015 was their last title).
Bischel said while taking the season one game at a time, there is a little less stress knowing his team controls its own destiny. The task for CMU is simple – win.
"We assume Ball State is going to win them all this weekend and we assume they will," Bischel said. "It's nice to know that you show up and win, you can celebrate. We may or we may not but it's fun to play in those types of games."
In the regular season finale, the Chippewas will send sophomore right-hander Jordan Patty to the mound. He owns a 2-2 record with a 3.69 ERA in 13 appearances this year, four of which were starts.
The final game of the series and the season will take place at 1p.m. May 18 at Theunissen Stadium.