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Baseball earns four-game sweep over NIU


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Junior third baseman Zach Heeke of Central Michigan's Mens' Baseball Team fields a ground ball against Miami May 16 at Theunissen Stadium.

Much like someone doing spring cleaning in April, CMU baseball brought out the brooms, earning a four-game Mid-American Conference series sweep against Northern Illinois.

CMU (14-8, 6-2 MAC) won game one 11-0 on Friday night, games two and three 2-1 and 17-6 respectively Saturday in a seven inning double-header, and claimed a 12-10 victory in the series finale Sunday at Ralph McKinzie Field. The Huskies (5-18, 4-8) have now lost seven straight and nine of their last 10 matchups against the Chippewas. 

FRIDAY FIREWORKS

After six scoreless innings from both teams, CMU struck first with a RBI sacrifice bunt from Mario Camiletti in the seventh gave CMU a 1-0 lead. The Chippewas earned three runs in the eighth off a Garrett Navarra double, an RBI groundout from Zach Heeke and a RBI sacrifice bunt from Nick Dardas to take a 4-0 lead after eight frames.

The Chippewas exploded with a seven-run ninth inning, highlighted by two-run singles from Navarra and Chase Rollin to seal a series-opening victory for CMU. Navarra and Rollin combined for five of CMU’s 11 hits and drove in five runs.

Junior pitcher Jordan Patty hurled 6 2/3 shutout innings allowing five hits and one walk while striking out four NIU batters. Ian Leatherman, Ben Vitas and Grant Frazer allowed only one walk and struck out four in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

SATURDAY SWEEP

CMU opened its scoring with two outs in the second off an RBI single from Camilletti to take a 1-0 lead. The Chippewas added another run with Camilletti’s attempt to steal second forced a throwing error from NIU catcher Jake Dunham, allowing CMU shortstop Justin Simpson to score from third base and give the Chippewas a 2-0 lead. 

Freshman pitcher Andrew Taylor kept the Huskies at bay, throwing six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out five NIU batters. Leatherman allowed one run in the seventh and escaped a bases-loaded jam to end the game for his third save of the season. 

Calimmetti earned two hits and CMU’s lone RBI. 

Game two of the doubleheader started off with a bang behind a two-run home run from Rollin in the first inning. NIU responded with a two-run shot of their own in the second to tie the game 2-2 after two. 

CMU added four runs in the next two innings behind a three-run double from Navarra and a bases-loaded walk to claim a 6-2 lead. The Huskies responded in their half of the fourth off a sacrifice fly to cut CMU’s lead to 6-3 after four innings. 

The Chippewas erupted in the sixth and seventh innings for 11 runs behind a pair of two-run doubles from Heeke and Simpson, two wild pitches and one run when Shepardson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, giving CMU a 17-3 lead. The Huskies scratched across three runs in their half of the seventh, but could not mount a comeback against CMU.

Heeke, Navarra, Camilletti and Jakob Marsee combined for eight of CMU’s 13 hits and drove in seven runs. Gilles and Simpson added two RBI’s each.

Senior Cam Brown tossed 3 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs off four hits with onewalk and four punchouts. Navarra, Ryan Palmlbad and Aaron Husson combined for four strikeouts in 2 2/3 hitless innings of relief. 

SEALING THE SERIES SWEEP

The Chippewas found themselves behind early as NIU opened a 6-0 advantage after two innings. CMU clawed back behind a three-run triple from Gilles and a sacrifice fly from Navarra to pull within two runs after three innings and pulled to within one run after four behind a Camilletti RBI double.

The Huskies would take a 7-5 lead after the fifth, but CMU used a five-run seventh inning behind a Rollin sacrifice fly and two-run singles from Navarra and Simpson to open a 10-7 lead. The Huskies would shrink the Chippewas lead to one off a two-run double to end the seventh, but committed two costly errors in the ninth, allowing the Chippewas to add two insurance runs and take a 12-9 lead.

The Huskies loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but mustered only one run off a sacrifice fly as the Chippewas earned the four-game series sweep. 

Camilletti knocked four of CMU’s 10 hits. Simpson, Navarra and Gilles earned three RBI each. 

WHAT’S NEXT

CMU returns Theunissen Stadium for the first time since May 18, 2019 for a four-game MAC series against Bowling Green starting at 3 p.m. on April 9. 

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