CMU's late rally falls short in MAC tournament loss to Ball State
Central Michigan looked to be put away heading into its final at-bat Friday.
Trailing 9-2 after eight, the Chippewas stepped up for their last hacks. After struggling to crack the code of Ball State starting pitcher Tyler Schweitzer, who went eight innings, CMU faced a reliever for the first time.
Immediately, the bats took advantage of the pitching change as the first five batters reached base. With two men on, Jacob Donahue sent a line drive into the gap in right-center, scoring both Aidan Shepardson and Robby Morgan IV.
Two batters later, leadoff man Mario Camilletti sent a three-run jack over the wall in right center field to cut the lead to 9-7.
After Jakob Marsee drew a one-out walk, two consecutive batters stepped up as the game's tying run. Both struck out, however, against Ball State closer Sam Klein as the rally fell just short. CMU fell 9-7, dropping into the loser's bracket of the Mid-American Conference tournament.
The loss sets CMU up in a rematch with Toledo, marking the sixth time in nine days that the two teams will square off. Having used both of his top starters, Andrew Taylor and Jordan Patty, CMU coach Jordan Bischel will likely turn to either Logan Buczkowski or Adam Mrakitsch to start the game.
Garrett Navarra, who started 10 games in the Chippewa rotation, threw 81 pitches in relief of Taylor Wednesday and could be available.
Should the Chippewas defeat the Rockets, they would have a rematch with Ball State set for 4 p.m. Saturday. The Cardinals would clinch the MAC tournament crown and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a win, while a CMU victory would set up a winner-take-all game at Noon Sunday.
Ball State raced to a 7-2 lead after five innings, scoring four in the fifth to bump it's 3-2 lead into a 7-2 advantage. Ryan Peltier provided the exclamation point with a two-run shot off Ryan Insco, who entered after Patty allowed hits to the first three batters of the inning and was pulled.
Patty finished the day allowing six runs over four-plus innings, striking out six and walking three. All three of his walks came with two outs in the second, which allowed the Cardinals to take their first lead in the third inning.
CMU struck first as Marsee launched a 3-1 delivery from Schweitzer into the stands. Danny Wuestenfeld made it 2-1 in the third with a sacrifice fly, but the two runs from Ball State in the bottom half set the tone.
While Ball State got its lead to five runs, the Chippewas struggled to solve Schweitzer. Ball State's lanky left-hander allowed just two hits after the third inning and departed after throwing 143 pitches over eight innings.
The Cardinals added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, which proved to be the difference as CMU stormed back in the top of the ninth.
CMU batted around in its final frame, but both Danny Wuestenfeld and Drew Lechnir were retired on strikes to end the game.
The Chippewas have now lost seven straight to Ball State dating back to last season.