CMU baseball splits MAC opening doubleheader with Kent State

Alto freshman Andrew Taylor readies himself for the throw home against Notre Dame, Friday, June 4.

As the driving rain turned to a haze of snowflakes in Kent, Ohio, Central Michigan baseball (5-8, 1-1) found itself in danger of starting the Mid-American Conference season 0-2 on Friday.

With Kent State (5-6, 1-1) behind 6-3 and down to its last out, the Chippewas sent senior Jake Jones to the mound.

The Golden Flashes took advantage of the slick conditions developing in the bottom of the ninth and cut the CMU lead to one. 

However, with the tying run on first base, Jones reared back and struck Kent State’s last hope out swinging, securing a 6-5 Chippewas victory in the final game of the double-header.

"We played in pretty tough conditions," said head coach Jordan Bischel. "Game one was okay but constant rain, cold temps, and then snow to finish game two, so I’m proud of the way the guys stuck together and battled through it. Those are difficult conditions to play in and the guys did a nice job with just battling and competing all day."

Andrew Taylor (1-2) took the mound for CMU in the first game of the double-header. Although Taylor recorded eight strikeouts in six and a third scoreless innings, the Chippewas bats didn't back him up.

As a result, Kent State locked up a 1-0 victory in game one with a walk-off single from Collin Mathews.

With Jordan Patty taking the mound in game two, CMU jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. 

“A couple of guys stepped up and put some good swings on the ball,” Bischel said. “Nick Dardas had a double to get us going. Mario (Camilletti) led off the game with a triple. We just drove the ball a little bit better.”

However, the Golden Flashes got to Patty and tied the game in the bottom of the first. As the situation worsened in the second, Bischel went to the bullpen for Garrett Navarra.

After immediately allowing a two-run homer and a single, Navarra settled in and silenced Kent State’s offense. 

“Navarra did give up the home run, but he pitched really well,” Bischel said.

In the fourth, the Chippewas’ offense came to life as they grabbed a 5-3 lead. Looking to secure CMU's first MAC win of the season, Bischel divided the work between his relievers.

“(Ryan) Palmblad and (Ryan) Insco were just outstanding for us,” Bischel said. “That's not easy, sit out in the cold all day and try to keep yourself ready. Then you have to come in and be sharp from the start, and those guys did a really good job. (The) biggest thing was they just attacked the strike zone. They made sure we were going to get beat with hits, not by walks or free passes, and they did a nice job. Our defense played well behind them. To not make any errors in those conditions is not easy.”

Jakob Marsee finished 2-for-7 on the day, with two RBI and a home run in the fourth inning of game two. Camilletti finished the day 2-for-6 at the plate, with an RBI and a walk.

Inclement weather is the norm early in the baseball season, but Bischel believes the Chippewas will find sustained success as spring arrives.

“It's just so early in the season. I mean, we're here playing conference games, and we haven't even stepped foot on the home field yet. That's a challenge for guys to just go out there and try to perform at a high level a lot of time of year, more or less, it's still winter in Michigan. So I think it's just a matter of continuing to work and grind through as the weather warms up, and we're on the field a little bit more it'll get a little bit more consistent.

Following a hard-fought win, Bischel wants to see the team come together in the face of adversity as they go forward.

“I think the biggest thing is just competing as a group,” Bischel said. You're not always gonna play your best. You’re not always going to get base hits. It's not always going to be perfect, but just kind of bonding together, competing, trying to do something to help your team win and I thought we learned that lesson pretty well in game two. I think we were out-hit like 13 to five. And then they go out and win when you are out-hit like that, shows you are doing some little things right and just working through it.”

Weather permitting, the Chippewas look to wrap up their weekend series against Kent State on Sunday.