CMU baseball sweeps Akron, win fourth straight series

Designated hitter Garret Navarra swings for the ball, April 18, Theunissen Stadium. Navarra also served as pitcher for the first three innings of the game.

Led by a trio of offensive explosions, Central Michigan baseball left no doubt in a weekend sweep of Akron. 

The Chippewas remain in first place among the Mid-American Conference, holding a 16-4 record in conference play. Since splitting the first conference series of the season, CMU has won each of the last four. 

Game one

Jordan Patty was once again dynamite. 

The junior right-hander fired six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and struck out five . The Chippewa offense didn't need help, stringing together 13 runs on nine hits and 13 walks to win, 13-1, in eight innings. The Midland native and reigning Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Week extended his scoreless inning streak to 31 2/3 innings with his performance.

CMU opened the scoring in the fifth with three runs, starting with sophomore shortstop Justin Simpson's RBI single. Simpson would add a two-run double in the sixth as part of a five run inning to make the score 8-0. 

Simpson, meanwhile, drove in five runs to set his season-high in RBI. Senior outfielder Zach Gillies extended his team lead in RBI to 28 with two more. 

"There's a lot of balance (in the lineup)," coach Jordan Bischel said. "There's a lot of guys that get on base a lot. It takes a lot of pressure when you feel like you don't have to do anything more than your part." 

Patty (W, 5-0) was relieved in the seventh by freshman right-hander Ben Vitas, who allowed a run for the first time in six appearances this season. Redshirt freshmen Drew Alsobrooks and Clayton Brock combined to pitch a scoreless eighth inning to enforce the mercy rule and seal the victory.

Game two

Behind strong performances in all aspects of the game, CMU took the opening game of Saturday's doubleheader 12-0. 

Redshirt freshman right-hander Andrew Taylor (W, 6-3), recently named to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out six, extending his team-high total to 78.

The Chippewas wasted no time getting started, scoring four runs in the second inning. Zach Heeke, the reigning co-MAC Player of the Week, tripled in the fourth to score Mario Camilletti and homered in the seventh, scoring three. 

"Huge level of experience," Bischel said of Heeke. "He's worked very hard in his five years here. Just wanting to see it all pay off. He's having a fantastic season."

Senior right-hander J.T. Rogoszewski hurled 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out one and allowing two hits. 

Heeke contributed three extra-base hits and four RBI, clobbering his second home run of the season and adding two triples. Redshirt freshman Drew Lechnir drove in two runs on two hits and Gillies added another RBI.

Game three

Cam Brown continued to eat innings, pitching his third straight seven inning complete game. The senior right-hander allowed six hits and surrendered one earned run, in the Chippewas 3-2 win in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader. 

Despite notching just three hits, the Chippewa offense drew nine walks to constantly put pressure on Akron's defense. Camilletti drew four of those walks and now holds a team-high 38 free passes in his first season after transferring from Oakland. 

CMU scored its first run on a fielder's choice groundout from freshman catcher Drew Stengren to tie Akron, which scored in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly from Josh Nellis. Sophomore utility man Garrett Navarra drew a bases loaded walk to give the Chippewas the lead in the top of the fifth. 

An insurance run was added in that fifth inning when Heeke scored on a double play groundout from redshirt freshman Jakob Marsee. Akron would get within a run, making it 3-2, in the bottom of the fifth when Brad Goulet doubled to score Cam Tilly. 

Brown (W, 6-0) closed the door in the bottom of the seventh by inducing two groundouts after giving up a one-out single. 

Game four

A 10-run fourth inning, aided by three home runs, helped CMU blow the doors off Akron in the series finale. The Chippewas won, 15-2, to complete the series sweep. 

Akron scored the first two runs of the day against CMU starter Navarra. However, that lead began to evaporate when Marsee drilled the first pitch of the fourth inning into the right field seats for his third home run of the season. 

"We kept our poise, kept our composure," Bischel said. "We put pressure on (Akron) with runners on base until we broke through with a big inning."

The next four Chippewas reached to load the bases for Camilletti, who cleared them with a grand slam. Heeke added his second home run of the series later in the inning to make it 7-2. 

Ian Leatherman replaced Navarra, who went 2 1/3 innings, and struck out the side in the fourth, earning the win (W, 1-0) after going 3 1/3 scoreless innings. 

"I thought Ian Leatherman was fantastic from the bullpen," Bischel said.

Navarra, who doubled as the DH, hit a three-run home run as part of a five run seventh to put away the Zips. 

Up next

The Chippewas return home for a four-game series against Miami (Ohio). The Chippewas remain in first place while the RedHawks are in fourth. Miami (Ohio) features right-handed pitcher Sam Bachman, who is high on MLB draft boards. 

"We feel good about where we're at," Bischel said. "We really emphasize focusing on just the next game, taking it one game at a time and kind of staying in the moment and enjoying that piece."