Chippewas take three of four from Dayton, OF Gilles named MAC Player of the Week
Thanks to several strong performances, including an award-winning showing from senior outfielder Zach Gilles, Central Michigan baseball bounced back from a series opening loss to take three of four from Dayton.
The series, spanning March 19-21, saw the Chippewas win two of the four games by 10 runs or more.
"I think we're starting to find our footing and I think the biggest thing is we're starting to figure out what we need to do well to be successful," coach Jordan Bischel said.
Gilles was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Week for his performance in the series. He had seven hits in 12 at-bats, reaching base a total of 12 times. On the season, he leads the MAC with a .500 batting average and ranks fourth with 15 RBI.
Dayton and Central Michigan both got strong performances from starting pitchers, but it was the Flyers who won the battle of the bullpens. Riley Tirotta drilled a two-run, walk-off home run to win the game for Dayton, 3-1, in the bottom of the ninth off Ian Leatherman (L, 0-1).
Both teams were scoreless until the fifth inning, when Dayton center fielder Jake Silverstein scored on a throwing error by redshirt freshman Zach Lechnir, who started at shortstop for the Chippewas. It was Drew Lechnir, twin brother of Zach, who scored the game's tying run on a wild pitch in the eighth.
Junior right-hander Jordan Patty got the start for the Chippewas, going 6.1 innings and allowing just the one unearned run. He struck out three, allowed three hits and walked one before giving way to sophomore left-hander Garrett Navarra.
Navarra went two innings, giving way to Leatherman after Dayton used a sacrifice bunt to put the winning run on second with one out. Leatherman allowed the home run on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.
Hunter Wolff struck out 10 in seven innings as the starter for Dayton. Justin Longbrake (W, 1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts to earn the win.
Redshirt freshman right-hander Andrew Taylor struck out 14, a career-high, across six innings to win his third consecutive start. The Chippewa bats backed him up, pushing across five runs. Dayton rallied late to come within a run, but Grant Frazer closed the door to give CMU its first win of the series.
CMU struck first with two runs in the top of the first, with junior Mario Camilletti and freshman Danny Wustenfeld driving in runs with singles. The Chippewas plated two more runs in the top of the third on RBI singles from Gilles and Drew Lechnir.
Dayton scored its first run off Taylor (W, 3-1) in the bottom of the fourth with a home run from Alex Brickman, who pushed across another run with an RBI single in the sixth to make it 4-2.
Redshirt freshman Kade Preston drove in a run in a pinch-hit opportunity in the ninth to add an insurance run, which proved to be the difference after Dayton's Mariano Riccardi drove in two runs with a single in the ninth.
Three different Chippewas, Gilles, Drew Lechnir and Jakob Marsee, totaled two hits while six others had one. Dayton starter Dylan Keller (L, 0-2) went 2.1 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs.
The Chippewas totaled nine hits, and 10 walks, to offensively overwhelm Dayton in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader. Thanks to that offensive attack, and a strong performance from senior right-hander Cam Brown, CMU won 13-3.
Junior outfielder Chase Rollin singled to open the scoring, with Gilles coming in after an error by Dayton's second baseman. Freshman Drew Stengren drove in a run later in the inning, scoring Preston on a groundout. The Chippewas scored four more to break the game open in the fourth, with Gilles, Marsee and Justin Simpson driving in runs.
After Dayton scored to cut the lead to 6-2, the Chippewas answered with six runs in the top of the fifth. Simpson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, Zach Lechnir singled in two, Marsee doubled and Gilles wrapped up the big inning with a single to make it 12-2.
CMU plated its 13th and final run when freshman outfielder Jacob Donahue scored on an error. Rollin and Gilles each had three hits to lead the offense.
Brown (W, 2-0) pitched five innings of three hit ball to earn his second win of the season. Right-hander Clayton Brock allowed a run in an inning of relief, while true freshman Ben Vitas finished the game with a scoreless seventh.
Ben Olson (L, 0-4) took the loss for the Flyers, pitching three innings and allowing four runs.
CMU saved its best offensive performance for last, using 18 hits and 14 walks to score 15 runs and defeat Dayton Sunday, 15-4.
Dayton led, 3-2, after the first inning. The Flyers answered RBI singles from Gilles and Wuestenfeld with a three-run home run from Brickman. The Chippewas answered with three runs in the second inning, however, as Navarra, Gilles and Wuestenfeld drove in runs.
Senior Zach Heeke drove in a run in the fourth with a single, Gilles added another with a single in the fifth and Simpson made it 8-3 with an RBI groundout in the sixth. Gilles would end the game with five runs driven in, the most of any Chippewa this season.
Freshman Colton Coca drove in two with a single in the ninth as part of a five-run inning. Chippewa starting pitcher J.T. Rogoszewski went just 4.1 innings, not enough to qualify for the win, and allowed seven hits and three runs while walking and striking out three.
Leatherman (W, 1-1) went 3.2 innings for the win. He struck out five while allowing three hits and one run. Sophomore left-hander Ryan Culley struck out both batters he faced before giving way to redshirt freshman lefty Drew Alsobrooks, who walked a batter before ending the game with a strikeout in his first career appearance.
Camilletti led the Chippewas with four hits. Navarra and Simpson each had three, while Heeke and Gilles had two. In addition to his five RBI, Gilles drew four walks. Dayton starter Nick Wissman (L, 0-1) went just one inning, allowing six hits and five runs.
CMU opens MAC play with a four game set at Ohio. The Chippewas will play one game at 6 p.m. Friday, a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Saturday and a game at 1 p.m. Sunday at 1.