Chippewas stay alive with rout of Michigan
Don't count Central Michigan out just yet.
Facing elimination and an in-state foe in Michigan (27-19), the Chippewas (42-17) earned an 8-2 victory Saturday at Frank Eck Stadium in South Bend, Indiana behind a slugging offense and a dominant start from junior right-hander Jordan Patty.
The offensive explosion was a welcome one, as the Chippewa bats were held mostly in check in Friday's shutout loss to Notre Dame.
Patty's worst pitch came in the first inning when Michigan left fielder Tito Cruz drilled a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall to give the Wolverines an early lead. Not to be outdone, however, CMU tied the game in the bottom half of the inning when Zach Gilles sprinted across the plate on a wild pitch from Michigan starter Cameron Weston.
The two teams each pitched out of trouble to keep the game tied until the bottom of the fourth inning, when CMU designated hitter Garrett Navarra clobbered a two-run shot to right field.
The Chippewas kept the pressure on in the bottom of the fifth, chasing Weston after back-to-back singles from Zach Heeke and Griffin Lockwood Powell. Logan Wood, who replaced Weston, balked and allowed Lockwood-Powell to score.
Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Aidan Shepardson was plunked by a pitch with the bases loaded, making it 5-1. Lockwood-Powell added to the scoring of the sixth, when he destroyed a 2-2 pitch in the bottom of the sixth for his second dinger of the year.
While the Chippewa bats awoke, Patty continued dealing on the mound. The Midland native scattered eight hits across 7 2/3 innings, delivering just the performance his team needed with its back against the wall. After a one-out double in the top of the second, Patty struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
The Wolverines put two runners on in both the sixth and seventh, however Patty made a big pitch each time to halt the rally and keep Michigan off the scoreboard.
Grant Frazer replaced Patty with two outs in the eighth and induced a fly out.
Patty struck out six in the outing, his highest total since striking out 11 in his seven-inning perfect game on April 30.
Lockwood-Powell's home run was his first since March 6 in a 12-11 loss to VCU. He paced the offense with three hits. Heeke and Justin Simpson each had two.
CMU will play the loser of Saturday's regional semifinal between Notre Dame and Connecticut. The Fighting Irish and the Huskies will square off at 6 p.m. Saturday.