Baseball opens series against Western Michigan in dominant fashion
After going on the road and having its 21-game conference win streak snapped by way of a sweep, Central Michigan (29-14, 22-5) baseball was happy to return to the friendly confines of Theunissen Stadium on Friday.
"The big thing is we just want to play good consistent baseball, and we didn't feel like we played great last weekend," Bischel said. "Tip the cap to Ball State they played well. But we feel like if we play well we should never get swept. So it was good to get home, play good baseball and get back on track.”
With senior Jordan Patty (W, 5-3) returning to the starting rotation, the Chippewas overwhelmed Western Michigan 11-4. CMU remains second in the Mid-American Conference standings.
"I thought it was a good all-around performance," Bischel said. "(Patty) hadn't started in a few weeks because of his arm injury and was feeling good. Gave us six good innings, which was great. (Our) offense was pretty relentless, put pressure on a lot of innings, and was able to break through with some big innings.
Having made his last start against Bowling Green on April 15, Patty held the Broncos scoreless through four innings.
“(Patty) probably could have pitched a couple of weeks ago," Bischel said. "Probably could have pitched more last week. We just wanted to be precautionary, take care of him, and make sure he was in a good spot for the home stretch. It looks like he's in a great spot for that now."
With its bats struggling, Western Michigan relied on starting pitcher Nick Crandell to keep things close. Crandell held the Chippewas scoreless through three innings, then Bischel’s squad found its rhythm.
“(Crandell's) not an overpowering guy,” Bischel said. “But he had some good natural movement, had a natural cutter, and the wind, I think, was increasing movement on that. It was a little tough to (hit), especially for our left-handed hitters. As they saw more of it, you've seen it with us when we have good at-bats and get deep in some counts it gives you some comfort, and as that played out we started to hit the ball harder.”
An Aidan Shepardson ground-out plated the Chippewas’ first run in the bottom of the fourth inning. They would bring six more batters would get a chance at Crandell in the half-inning, as CMU pushed the score to 3-0.
Western Michigan finally got to Patty in the fifth inning, ending his no-hitter. He followed that up by walking the next batter.
With runners on first and second and the outfield shaded to the right, Broncos’ Jimmy Allen connected with a Patty pitch.
Standing near the scoreboard in right-center field, Robby Morgan began ranging to his left. As the ping of the bat hitting the diamond faded, the sound was replaced by an eruption from the crowd as Morgan secured a sliding grab near the 400-foot mark in left-center field.
“(Morgan) is a tremendous athlete,” Bischel said. “He's gonna get better and better the longer you place here. Those are plays average athletes just can't make, and you can't teach that one. I don't know how much ground he covered there. We need some on some of those metrics. In my eyes, it was a good catch.”
Sophomore Drew Lechnir increased the Chippewas’ lead with a solo shot in the home half of the fifth. It was his first career home run.
“(Lechnir's) just been good for us the last few weeks, fun to see,” Bischel said. “He’s a guy who hit for a lot of power in high school, and its slowly been coming. You've seen some extra-base hits lately, but he's been swinging a great bat for us, and fun to see him have another big day today.”
Western notched its first run in the sixth and tacked on three more in the seventh. However, CMU piled on seven runs in the same period to secure game one of the weekend series.
Picking up his fifth win of the season, Patty finished with six strikeouts and one earned run in six innings of work.
Lechnir finished 3-for-5 at the plate with an RBI. Morgan ended the day 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI.
The Chippewas continue their weekend series against WMU with a doubleheader on Saturday. The first game begins at noon.
“Overall, I just thought good energy, good intention,” Bischel said. “Hopefully, we bring that again tomorrow.”