CMU baseball secures sole first place position in MAC standings with win over Miami (OH)

Junior outfielder Jake Brill hits the ball during a game against Miami (Ohio) on Friday, April 28 in Keilitz Field at Theunissen Stadium. Brill had two hits, one being a home run.

On Friday, in Central Michigan University baseball’s (28-13, 14-5) series-opening 6-3 win over Miami (OH) (14-30, 9-13), the Chippewas got a big boost from a pair of newcomers who were brought in during the offseason to help cover the losses from last year’s team.

Junior outfielders Jacob Brill and Marquis Jackson, both of whom were transfers from community college, each chipped in a solo home run in CMU’s effort over the RedHawks.

“We’ll never bring in a transfer unless we think they can play a big role for us,” head coach Jordan Bischel said. “Otherwise, we’ll get a freshman and develop 'em. We knew with three draft picks, a bunch of seniors and a few transfers, ... we needed some experience, especially in the outfield. 

"And those guys - it’s taken them a little time to settle in like you would expect. But we knew when we brought those guys in that they had the ability to really impact (games) for us.”

CMU's baseball team reacts after a Miami baseball player strikes out during a game against Miami (Ohio) on Friday, April 28 in Keilitz Field at Theunissen Stadium. CMU gave up nine hits.

Brill’s home run kicked off the scoring effort for the Chippewas in the second inning, while Jackson’s scored the final run for either team. Their collective efforts helped CMU maintain its winning streak, which dates back to April 11.

That 11-game streak is not just a product of the newcomers, it represents a level of play that Bischel knew his team was capable of.

“I think early in the season, we thought we had a good chance to be pretty good,” he said. “We were a little bit up and down. But we had so many new faces -- half of our roster is new this year -- so looking back, you had to expect some of that up and down. But its continued to piece together. 

"I think we learned the stuff we were capable of, now we’re starting to achieve, which is good to see.”

A large part of the recent success has been the team’s ability to limit run production. Six of the 11 games within the winning streak have featured three or fewer runs given up by the Chippewas’ pitching staff.

Today’s win was more of the same, as sophomore starting pitcher Adam Mrakitsch and graduate reliever Ryan Palmblad combined for three earned runs, 12 strikeouts and eight hits. Mrakitsch tossed the first six innings, while Palmblad took the final three.

In its previous 10 games, Miami (OH) averaged 8.9 runs per game, so keeping the RedHawks’ offense at bay was a focus for CMU.

“They’re a really talented team,” Bischel said. “They’re playing well lately for a reason. They’ve got a lot of thump at the plate and some guys that can hit. They had good hitting approaches today. … But I think we were just confident. 

"We executed pitches and if you do that it doesn’t matter who you face, you’re eventually gonna get outs. We’re playing good defense, I mean that makes a huge difference.”

At the plate, the Chippewas carried over some of the consistency they got from their pitching staff. Brill was the only member of the lineup to post a multi-hit game, with two in his four at-bats, but all except for three CMU players receiving an at-bat registered hits. 

Three separate players each drew two walks, as the Chippewas compiled eight drawn walks total on the day. Their patient plate approaches resulted in Miami’s pitching staff driving its overall pitch count up to 155, compared to CMU’s 141.

The Chippewas return to Theunissen Stadium tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, for another 1 p.m. game, as they look to secure their fourth straight series win. 

Redshirt freshman infielder Luke Sefcik celebrates at second base during a game against Miami (Ohio) on Friday, April 28 in Keilitz Field at Theunissen Stadium. Sefcik had one hit and two walks.