CMU baseball steals series finale from BGSU

Freshman infielder and righthand pitcher Christian Mitchelle throws the ball to first base during a game against Bowling Green Friday, March 31 in Keilitz Field at Theunissen Stadium. Mitchelle had four assists and one error.

With runners perched at the corners, junior catcher Drew Stengren was called upon to hit in place of graduate first baseman Kade Preston. Following a first pitch called strike, head coach Jordan Bischel made another adjustment, replacing the pinch-hitting Stengren with sophomore outfielder Robby Morgan IV. 

The decision paid off as Morgan delivered an RBI single through the left side of the infield, giving his team an eighth inning lead.

“Drew is one of our best bunters and that was a great time to drop down a safety squeeze,” Bischel said. “He’s also recovering from a broken (bone in his hand) and hasn’t been in a game in six weeks, so I thought ‘hey, first strike there’s a pretty good chance he can get this bunt down.’ Then we fell behind in the count. I thought we could steal the base, thought it was a lot of pressure to put on Drew. Robby was telling me he felt good … so I thought let’s just hit.”

Central Michigan baseball (14-12, 5-4) pulled out all the stops, headlined by the eighth inning strategizing by Bischel, en route to a 4-3 win over Bowling Green State University (11-14, 6-6) on Sunday. The Chippewas closed out their series with the Falcons winning game three after dropping the first two.

On both sides, pitching dominated the outing early. CMU pitcher Garrett Navarra was given the starting nod in the series finale and turned in a productive outing. Through seven innings, he surrendered two earned runs to BGSU’s lineup via three hits, while punching out seven in 103 pitches. 

The Falcons trotted out senior RHP Ryan Hays, who made time at the plate difficult for the Chippewas. He allowed one earned run in his six innings. He matched Navarra’s tally in the hit column with three, while striking out four on 88 pitches.

While Hays only surrendered a single earned run to CMU’s lineup, it was courtesy of none other than Navarra. In the Chippewas first opportunity at the dish, Navarra scored junior outfielder Marquis Jackson, who reached base on a leadoff walk, with a sacrifice fly to left center field. 

In the following frame, BGSU followed suit by scoring a run via sacrifice fly when senior infielder Tyler Ross took a pitch from Navarra to center field. Scoring on the play, was sophomore outfielder Nathan Archer, who previously tripled down the right field line to lead off the second inning.

After the two back-to-back scores between the top of the first and the bottom of the second, scoring production was rather sparse. CMU junior outfielder Jacob Brill scored freshman infielder/pitcher Christian Mitchelle on a bunted single back toward Hays to give the Chippewas a 2-1 lead.

Erasing the lead in the sixth was BGSU senior infielder Nathan Rose, who doubled down the left field line, scoring freshman infielder Sam Seidel.

CMU finally got things going in the eighth inning, which began with Morgan’s RBI single. Following the first run, the Chippewas registered another thanks to a sacrifice bunt from freshman infielder Luke Sefcik. The bunt yielded another scored run from Mitchelle and gave CMU a bit of security heading into the final frame.

Not only did he represent the game winning run, but Mitchelle was called upon in the eighth inning to shut the door on the Falcons on the mound. 

“The reason we’re confident in him is there’s no doubt he’s confident in himself,” Bischel said. “You watch how he carries himself, there’s no bad body language. No panic. He trusts who he is and how he’s prepared and so freshman, senior, it doesn’t matter. When you believe in yourself it’s easy for us coaches to believe (in him).”

Looking ahead, the Chippewas will have back-to-back midweek games in the upcoming week. On Tuesday, they will travel to battle against Oakland at 2:30 p.m. followed by a Wednesday matchup back at home with Concordia, set for 3 p.m.