Chippewas' magical season ended by Notre Dame

Mt. Pleasant senior Zach Heeke sticks his tongue out between pitches against Norte Dame in the first game of the South Bend regionals, Friday, Jun 4.

The magic ran out for Central Michigan. 

After 18 consecutive innings of rocking, rolling offense, the Chippewa bats were hushed Sunday night. CMU ran into a humming freight train disguised as the Notre Dame offense.

The Fighting Irish hit five more home runs, giving them 15 home runs on the weekend. Their 14 runs gave them 50 in three games. 

"It felt like you could throw Jacob DeGrom against these guys and it wouldn't matter," CMU coach Jordan Bischel said. "That team is so dialed in right now."

In the end, the Chippewa offense couldn't keep up, falling 14-2 Sunday at Frank Eck Stadium. 

The Chippewa season ends at 42-18. The Fighting Irish (33-11) advance to the Super Regional, where they will take on the winner of the Starkville regional. 

"I think, for our guys, nothing more appropriate than spending 12 hours at the ballpark our last day of the season," Bischel said. "Because these guys just love to play. Win or lose, the opportunity to spend all that time together means the world to them."

Key moments

Cam Brown began his final start in trouble. His second pitch of the night was smacked down the right field line by Spencer Myers for a double. Myers was left stranded after retiring three of the next four hitters to exit the inning unscathed. 

The Chippewas would get a base runner in each of the first three innings, but double plays wiped out each of the first two chances and three straight fly outs ended the third. 

Brown would hurl two more smooth innings, and CMU took the lead in the top of the fourth on a moonshot from senior catcher Griffin Lockwood-Powell. The lead was short-lived, however, as Notre Dame slugger Niko Kavadas hit his fifth home run of the tournament on the first pitch of the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. 

"(Brown) competed his butt off," Bischel said. "Gave us a chance. Couldn't be prouder of him, not just today but his entire career." 

The Fighting Irish took the lead with two outs in the inning when David LaManna reached base on a Justin Simpson error, allowing Carter Putz to cross home plate. 

Notre Dame's offensive machine found another gear in the bottom of the fifth, as the first three batters reached base before Putz clobbered a grand slam. 

Outside of a sixth inning rally that produced a run, however, the Chippewa offense was stagnant. While CMU was stuck in neutral, the Fighting Irish kept mashing. 

Notre Dame hit five home runs, including Putz's two. The Chippewa offense, which hit four in Sunday's earlier matchup with Connecticut, was quieted by Fighting Irish starter Aidan Tyrell. 

Bischel subbed out each of CMU's four seniors in the starting lineup -- Zach Heeke, Zach Gilles, Chase Rollin and Lockwood-Powell -- with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. The Chippewa faithful greeted the seniors with a standing ovation. 

"Those guys, what they've done for us is probably beyond words," Bischel said. "And once it got a little out of control, I just thought there couldn't be anything more special."

Key performances

Lockwood-Powell's home run was his third of the season and second in as many days. The senior catcher bypassed professional opportunities last summer for one more chance to play for the Chippewas. 

Redshirt freshman Jakob Marsee recorded two hits and also hauled in a highlight-reel diving catch. 

Tyrell went eight innings, allowing six hits and two runs. Tanner Kohlhepp, who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in earned run average, recorded the final three outs for the Fighting Irish.  

Senior update

After the game, Bischel said Sunday's game was the final game in the career of Rollin, who had an extra year of eligibility due to the waiver granted to all spring student-athletes because of the coronavirus. 

Lockwood-Powell also has an extra year of eligibility, but his status depends on whether or not he is drafted in the upcoming MLB Draft.