CMU extends winning streak to eight with sweep of NIU
During the top of the sixth inning in the first game of the afternoon, freshman LHP Adam Mrakitsch was given the opportunity to impact the game in a way most pitchers don’t — pinch running. He stole second base on a designed steal, then moments later crossed home plate to an eruption of the dugout.
This instance summed up the general theme of the doubleheader on Sunday, in which CMU (18-10, 13-1) handled NIU (6-25, 6-12) to the tune of a dominant 12-0 seven-inning contest, followed by an 8-5 win in nine innings.
CMU sits atop the Mid-American Conference standings with its in-conference record of 13-1. Additionally, the Chippewas are riding a streak of eight consecutive wins, including 13 consecutive MAC wins.
“I think what you’re starting to see is (our) depth showing up and coming through. A lot of different good performances,” said head coach Jordan Bischel. “Jake Donahue had been playing really well and then had an injury in game 1 of the series, then we saw Drew Lechnir come up with some big hits today.”
“I think because we’re pretty well-rounded and pretty deep, you can be pretty consistent and string some things together, and I think that’s neat to see.”
Game 1 (CMU 12, NIU 0)
LHP Garrett Navarra started for CMU in its first game and turned in a very productive day. He tossed all seven innings, recording eight strikeouts to only one walk. Navarra did not allow any earned runs and let up just two hits on 105 total pitches to the Huskies. As usual, he remained in the lineup as a hitter.
“He was just phenomenal on the mound today and really has, after a little bit of a rough start, had a lot of good outings for us and that was great to see,” Bischel said of Navarra. “He’s a versatile player and he’s really worked hard. It’s not easy being a two-way guy and he really works at it, which is great.”
As good as Navarra performed, however, it was once again the offense that stole the show. The Chippewas came out firing in the first frame, scoring a staggering seven runs on four hits. A single from Mario Camilletti, along with a pair of drawn walks from Jakob Marsee and Justin Simpson gave Central a bases-loaded look for sophomore slugger Danny Wuestenfeld, who delivered with a 2-RBI double to give CMU a two-run lead with no outs.
Third baseman Aidan Shepardson chipped in for an RBI single, then two batters later, Drew Lechnir came through with a big 1-out triple to right field, scoring three. Navarra capped off CMU’s bombardment of first-inning runs with an RBI groundout.
One of NIU’s two hits came in the top of the second, as outfielder Malik Peters poked a single through the left side on a 2-2 count. Navarra followed the allowed-hit with a punchout and a flyout to right.
Elsewhere, CMU produced runs via RBI’s from Wuestenfeld in the second, and Simpson in the third. Senior Chris Monroe also chipped in with an RBI single in the fifth as a pinch-hitter, and Drew Lechnir picked up another RBI in the frame to put his total at four on the day. Marsee also took home on a throw down to second in the fourth.
Game 2 (CMU 8, NIU 5)
Game 2 saw senior flamethrower Logan Buzckowski take the mound to start. He recorded a quick punchout of NIU’s leadoff batter, but walked the next Husky at the plate, who would eventually score on an RBI single from Peters, giving NIU its first lead of the day.
The Chippewas answered back by scoring two of their own. Wuestenfeld scored leadoff hitter Camilletti on an RBI single. Then with one out and Marsee on third, Shepardson laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Marsee. Simpson added a sacrifice-bunt of his own to advance runners for the first out of the inning.
After NIU’s quick score in the first, CMU jumped out to a 5-1 lead through two, with three runs in the second coming via a 2-RBI single from Camilletti, who also took home on an error to account for all three second-innings runs.
Sophomore RHP Ryan Insco replaced Buczkowski in the fifth and NIU showed signs of life, scoring on a bunted single. However, the run was unearned due to error. Insco only gave up two hits in two innings of work, while recording three strikeouts and no walks.
Wuestenfeld and Lechnir were the driving force of Central’s offense all day. Wuestenfeld finished the day with four hits in six at-bats, going 3-for-3 in game two, and totaling 5 RBI’s through both games. Meanwhile, Lechnir produced three hits in his seven plate-appearances on the day, and gave the Chippewas 6 RBI’s of his own.
NIU never faltered, scoring four more runs via RBI’s from two different Huskies, with two runs in the eighth, and one in the ninth. Despite trailing since the first, NIU batters challenged CMU pitching through the final frame. The Huskies’ offense tallied five runs on 10 hits, while striking out 10 times.
CMU batters scored 8 runs on 7 hits, while also striking out 10 times. CMU batters drew seven walks, compared to NIU’s three.
CMU will travel to Oakland on Tuesday for a single-game trip. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.