Baseball stuns Miami (Florida), will play Mississippi State in regional semifinal


Central Michigan baseball coach Jordan Bischel watches the Chippewas face Ball State April 7 at Theunissen Stadium.

The last taste of the NCAA Tournament the Central Michigan baseball team had was a loss to Louisiana State University in 1995. In its first appearance at the tournament in 24 years, the outcome was much different. 

Senior right fielder David Cole knocked a single to center field, moved to second on a throwing error and scored junior center fielder Zach Gilles in the eighth inning. 

Gilles' run was the difference as the Chippewas (47-12) defeated Miami (Florida) (39-19), 6-5 at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, Mississippi in the NCAA Tournament opening round. 

The May 31 win moves CMU into the Starkville Regional semifinal, where it will play the host team, Mississippi State. A win against the Bulldogs would put the No. 3-seed Chippewas into the Regional Final; a loss would put them in the Elimination Bracket. 

Miami seemed to set themselves in cruise control after three innings as it took the lead in the third inning with a pair of home runs, one of which was a 3-run home run from right fielder Adrian Del Castillo. 

CMU would respond with one run in the fourth inning, scored by sophomore left fielder Chase Rollin off a triple from freshman designated hitter Garrett Navarra. 

In the fifth, the Chippewas took a 5-4 lead courtesy, in large part, of a 3-run double from senior first baseman Evan Kratt in the fifth inning.  The Hurricanes tied the game in the seventh inning with Del Castillo's second home run of the game. 

Cole pushed his team in front by a nose to give junior right-hander Zach Kohn (W,  4-3) the chance to win the game in the ninth. He set the Hurricanes down in order to secure the Chippewas' 19th consecutive victory. 

After senior starting pitcher Pat Leatherman struggled, freshman left-hander Ryan Palmblad came into the game and was strong in his three innings pitched. He allowed just one run (earned) on one hit and struck out two. 

Kohn allowed just one hit and a walk, while striking out five in 2 1/3 innings to pick up the win. 

The Chippewas will square off against the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. June 1 at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, Mississippi.