Chippewas swept by Islanders in season opening series
After quickly scheduling a series with Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Central Michigan's baseball team looked to be finding itself for most of its season-opening doubleheader on Sunday. The Chippewas also fell Sunday afternoon in the third game of the series.
Due to significant storms, the Chippewas were forced to replace their original opponent, Stephen F. Austin, with the Islanders. CMU's bats were quiet for much of the season opening twin bill, leading in only one of the two games' combined 18 innings.
The Chippewas (0-3) drew 12 total walks but mustered just nine hits in the first two games. Meanwhile, the Islanders (3-0) got two solid performances from leadoff hitter Luke Marbach. Though the bats came alive briefly in game three, CMU squandered multiple opportunities and fell in game three.
Junior right-hander Grant Frazer inherited a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the bottom of the ninth with the Chippewas leading by a run. A fielder's choice and a single sandwiched around an intentional walk was enough to do the trick for the Islanders, who won the doubleheader opener 4-3.
TAMCC got on the board in the first inning when Marbach walked, stole second and third and promptly scored on a sacrifice fly from Itchy Burts, the Islanders' second hitter. The Chippewa starter, junior right-hander Jordan Patty, would work out of trouble for the next three innings while the offense struggled. The game remained 1-0 Islanders after four.
Patty was pulled after a leadoff walk to start the fifth and replaced by left-hander Ryan Culley, a Parkland College transfer making his Chippewa debut. Culley allowed the leadoff runner to score on a wild pitch and walked three but ended the inning with the score still just 2-0 in favor of AMCC.
The Chippewa offense got rolling in the top of the eighth. Sophomore designated hitter Garrett Navarra singled to lead off the inning and scored on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch by senior outfielder Zach Gilles. Redshirt freshman shortstop Zach Lechnir drove in the tying run with a walk and, after a shutout inning from senior right-hander Cam Brown, the two teams were tied going into the ninth.
Navarra singled to open the top of the ninth, his fourth hit, and senior catcher Griffin Lockwood-Powell doubled two batters later to put the go-ahead run at third with two outs. Junior second baseman Mario Camilletti reached on an error to give CMU a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
Brown returned to the mound for the bottom of the inning but allowed each of the first three Islander hitters to reach base. Frazer took the mound to try to get the Chippewas out of the jam, but AMCC scored on Marbach's fielders choice and a walk-off single by Josh Carraway to win the game.
Brown (L, 0-1) took the loss for the Chippewas while JT Moeller (W, 1-0) got the win for AMCC. Patty went four innings and allowed four hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Navarra led the Chippewas with four hits while Lockwood-Powell had two and junior third baseman Chase Rollin had one.
Game two was more of the same offensively for the Chippewas, who lost the second game 5-1.
The game was scoreless through two innings before the Islanders tacked on a run when Marbach hit his second double of the game off of starter Andrew Taylor in the bottom of the third. CMU answered with back to back walks by Gilles and redshirt freshman Jakob Marsee but ended the inning scoreless.
The Islanders broke the game open in the sixth when Taylor was replaced by sophomore right-handed pitcher Ian Leatherman. Marbach and Mike Williams each hit two-run home runs in the inning. Leatherman pitched a quieter seventh inning, however finished his night allowing six hits and two walks in two innings.
Sophomore shortstop Justin Simpson notched the first hit of the game for the Chippewas with a bunt single in the eighth inning. CMU scored its only run when Camilletti drove in freshman first baseman Danny Wuestenfeld with a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth.
Taylor (L, 0-1) finished with a solid seven strikeouts in five innings, only allowing two hits and one walk. After Leatherman exited, the trio of Frazer, sophomore left-hander Garrett Willis and junior right-hander Aaron Husson combined to get three outs in the eighth. Simpson and junior Aidan Shepardson, who doubled in the ninth, had the only hits for the Chippewas.
Right-hander Henry Bird (W, 1-0) threw five shutout innings for AMCC, striking out four and walking four while allowing no hits. Left-hander Jamie Ramirez struck out four and walked three in three innings while Colin Purcell allowed the only run in the ninth. Marbach was three-for-three with three RBI while Williams had the other two with his home run.
Down 4-0 after four innings on Monday, CMU found itself in an offensive rut once again. Though the Chippewas mounted a small rally, the Islander bats got hot again late to claim the series sweep.
Senior right-handed pitcher J.T. Rogoszewski (L, 0-1) got the start for the Chippewas and allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings pitched. Rogoszewski allowed four hits and walked four while fanning three. Rogoszewski gave up a home run to Carraway and a single to Tristan Welch in the third and was replaced by Navarra, who promptly gave up a two-run shot to Tre Jones to make it 4-0 Islanders.
In the top of the fifth, Camilletti reached on a hit by pitch, Gilles singled and Jakob Marsee walked to load the bases for redshirt freshman left fielder Drew Lechnir, who singled in two runs. Zach Lechnir followed with an RBI single of his own to make it 4-3.
The Chippewas tried to mount a rally when Marsee and Drew Lechnir reached on walks in the top of the seventh, but Islanders left-handed reliever Cassius Shy struck out Zach Lechnir and Wuestenfeld to end the inning.
Navarra was pulled after a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh. He finished with six strikeouts, two walks and two earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched. Junior right-hander Logan Buczkowski replaced Navarra and gave up back-to-back singles to Marbach and Burts, allowing the leadoff walk to score and make it 5-3 AMCC. Buczkowski struck out the next batter before being replaced by sophomore lefty Ryan Palmblad.
Williams doubled off of Palmblad to make it 6-3. Palmblad was able to prevent any further damage in the inning. The Chippewas put two runners on in both the eighth and the ninth, but Wuestenfeld grounded into a game ending double play.
Hayden Thomas (W, 1-0) pitched four scoreless innings for the Islanders. Shy earned his first save of the season after pitching 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball. Marbach and Williams each had two hits while Williams and Jones each drove in two runs.
Marsee led the Chippewas with three walks while Drew Lechnir had two hits and two RBI. As a team, the Chippewas drew 12 walks.
The Chippewas will travel to Bellarmine for a four-game series with the Knights beginning Feb. 26. The Chippewas will play one game at 2 p.m. Friday, a doubleheader Saturday and one game at 1 p.m. Sunday. Patty, Taylor and Rogoszewski will likely start three of the matchups, while a fourth starter is to be determined.