Chippewas keep season alive, defeat Liberty on Danny Wuestenfeld's walk-off single

CMU first baseman Danny Wuestenfeld receives a celebratory bath after his walk-off single against Liberty.

Central Michigan's baseball team came pouring out of the dugout as Danny Wuestenfeld punched a base hit through the left side of the infield. 

With two out and two on, Wuestenfeld ended a nearly four-hour marathon game with his walk-off single, scoring pinch runner Zach Lechnir from third base. The sophomore first baseman raised his right index finger toward the dugout, celebrating as he reached first base to end the game. 

The single cemented a 3-2 victory for CMU over Liberty in an elimination game Saturday. With the win, the Chippewas will take on the loser of the Florida-Oklahoma matchup Saturday night. The elimination game is scheduled 1 p.m. Sunday. 

CMU is now 4-1 in elimination games this season, winning three in the Mid-American Conference tournament and now Saturday's matchup with Liberty. 

Wuestenfeld regained the team lead in RBIs with the game-winner, and his season total of 68 ranks tied for fifth in program history. He finished Saturday with two hits, following a three-hit effort on Friday in the loss to Florida. 

CMU took the first lead in the third inning, with Adam Proctor scoring on a Jakob Marsee groundout. Though the Chippewas would get runners on early in innings, it was tough to capitalize against Liberty ace Joe Adametz III. 

Jordan Patty, meanwhile, was rolling early despite walking a total of seven batters. The redshirt senior struck out seven batters over six innings on the bump. Heading into his final inning, he was cruising along. 

The Flames finally got to Patty in the sixth, as Derek Orndorff reached on a one-out bloop double. After advancing to third on a single by Three Hillier, Orndorff crossed the plate when Patty tossed an errant pickoff throw past Wuestenfeld at third base. 

CMU would answer right back in the bottom of the inning, as Robby Morgan reached on an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jacob Donahue. The stage was set for Nick Dardas, who notched his eighth RBI of the season with a base hit to left field. 

Dardas plays a unique role, as he entered the day with 52 at-bats on the season despite 38 starts. Proctor commonly replaces Dardas as a pinch-hitter, but the Bay City native made the most of his opportunity to remain in the lineup with his sixth inning knock. 

The game was far from over, though, as Liberty knotted the game back up in the bottom of the eighth. Hillier doubled to open the inning, then advanced to third and scored on a pair of sacrifices. 

Aside from the run in the eighth, reliever Adam Mrakitsch turned in a phenomenal performance. In six relief innings, the freshman was unflappable. He allowed two hits, walk two batters and struck out three. 

Mrakitsch is now 7-1 on the season and leads the team in ERA as a true freshman. He won two games in the MAC tournament and appears to have carried his heroics to the national stage. 

CMU is looking to reach a second consecutive regional final, which it could do with a win Sunday. Last season, the Chippewas defeated Michigan and Connecticut on consecutive days to reach the final against Notre Dame, where they were defeated 14-2.