With convincing win over Miami, baseball rides 13-game winning streak
At least for another day, the winning streak lives on.
The Central Michigan baseball team found a way to push its winning streak to 13 games with a 6-2 win over Mid-American Conference foe Miami (Ohio).
With the four-run victory May 16 at Theunissen Stadium, the Chippewas (41-12, 20-5) have made a name for themselves on the national front.
The program is currently ranked 24th in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll. In-state foe Michigan is just two spots ahead of the Chippewas in the 22nd position of the current rankings.
Coach Jordan Bischel has tried his best to keep the team's winning streak in perspective, and as the regular season closes into its final two games, the message is the same – have fun.
"Everybody wants to talk about how important these games are," Bischel said. "You need to enjoy it. Not many teams are in this position, someone is going to finish first and someone is going to finish second. Someone is going to be disappointed so you better enjoy it."
While most, if not all, of the roster has bought into Bischel's philosophy, senior right-handed pitcher Pat Leatherman has seemed to personify the first year coach's mindset.
Leatherman (W, 9-1) struck out seven RedHawks while dispatching just two runs (both unearned) on seven hits over seven innings. While doing so, he looked like he was playing in the backyard with how much fun he was having.
"That was a big change this year," Leatherman said. "We're focused on energy and making these 'more important' games less stressful by treating them all the same. You'll see all of the antics in the dugout. These can be long days on the field so if you're having fun with the guys you're around every day, it makes these games come easier and more fun to be out here."
With the understanding that Senior Day is technically on May 18, Leatherman realized he had pitched his final game at Theunissen Stadium and the final out of his career was a self-admittedly strange play in the seventh inning.
Miami's left fielder Kyle Winkler singled to left field and scored two runs. CMU sophomore left fielder Chase Rollin fired the ball to the plate for sophomore catcher Griffin Lockwood-Powell to try and make a play. The ball was off target but Leatherman was behind the plate for that specific reason. Winkler saw the ball go past Lockwood-Powell and took off for second base, Leatherman saw the runner go and was able to throw a perfect ball to second base for the out.
"I'm glad my last out at Theunissen was a weird play because I've had a weird career here," Leatherman said. "If it goes down that way that's pretty good."
Another stellar defensive play from the Chippewas came in the sixth inning when Miami's Christian Tejada tagged up from third base on a sacrifice fly to right field. As Tejada made his way to the plate, senior right fielder Jacob Crum launched a perfect throw through the wind and made its way to Lockwood-Powell on the fly and beat Tejada with plenty of time for the out.
"That's a big league arm, hands down," Bischel said. "We get excited when he gets an opportunity to throw. It's a momentum changer, when the other team has a rally and thinks they at least have a chance to get on the board, to gun a guy down like that totally changes things."
The series between the Chippewas and RedHawks continues at 3 p.m. on May 17 at Theunissen Stadium as CMU puts its winning streak, and national recognition on the line once again.