Chippewas drop series opener to WMU

Orange, Calif. sophomore Justin Simpson slides headfirst into third against Ball State, Saturday, May 8.

Central Michigan couldn't execute the big play. 

In each of the first three innings, CMU put runners on base but couldn't get the big hit. On the other side, Western Michigan was able to string together multiple two-out hits. In clutch situations, the Broncos dominated the game. 

All of this added up to an 8-3 victory for WMU Friday afternoon. The loss, paired with a Ball State win, moves the Chippewas into a tie for first place in the Mid-American Conference with 11 games to play. 

Key moments

Jordan Patty (L, 7-2) struggled with command early in the game. After striking out the first two batters he faced, Patty surrendered a walk and a single before inducing a ground ball to end the first inning unscathed. 

Patty wouldn't get as lucky in the following frame. With two outs, the Broncos strung together a walk and two doubles to take a 2-0 lead heading into the third. CMU would get runners on the corners with two outs in the top of the third, but Garrett Navarra popped out to end the threat. 

CMU would put together a rally in the top half of the fifth, as Justin Simpson and Mario Camilletti each drew walks. After a double steal moved the two to second and third, Zach Gilles tied the game at two apiece with a single. 

WMU came right back in the bottom half. With two out and a man at second, CMU coach Jordan Bischel elected to intentionally walk Bronco cleanup hitter Sean O'Keefe. 

The next batter, Ethan Hajdukovic, singled to break the tie. Logan Hudson followed with a two-run double, making it 5-2 WMU and ending Patty's day. 

The Chippewa offense was held in check by Bronco reliever Will Mullen (W, 6-1), who went 4 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball. Camilletti drove in a run in the top of the ninth before freshman Danny Wuestenfeld hit into a double play to end the game. 

Key performers

Patty allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings while striking out just two. Grant Frazer went 1 1/3 innings in relief and allowed two runs, while Aaron Husson pitched two scoreless innings. 

Gilles went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBI. Camilletti had two hits and Zach Lechnir hit a double in the ninth after entering as a pinch hitter for third baseman Aidan Shepardson. 

Zach Heeke continued to struggle, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. He was replaced by Wuestenfeld in the seventh. As a team, the Chippewas stranded eight runners and struck out eight times. 

Up next

The Chippewas and Broncos will play a doubleheader Saturday, with the first game scheduled to start at noon. Andrew Taylor (8-3, 1.53 ERA) will face off against Easton Sikorski (4-2, 3.21 ERA) in game one while Cam Brown (6-1, 4.24 ERA) takes on Brady Miller (0-6, 9.51 ERA) in game two.