CMU baseball hangs 24 on EMU, ties up series at one apiece


Junior pitcher Keegan Batka throws the ball over to first trying to get the runner at first out during Saturday's game against Miami (OH) at Theunissen Stadium.

When Eric Roof, head coach for Eastern Michigan baseball, made the decision to pull his pitcher in the bottom of the fourth inning on Saturday, the damage had already been done by Central Michigan.

EMU (22-22, 8-15) graduate reliever Zach Gillig came into the game during the same inning after back-to-back hits given up by starter Luke Russo. In search of some relief already down 7-0, Roof called upon Gillig in hopes of leaving the inning unscathed, but CMU (30-15, 16-7) proceeded to score another seven runs off of Gillig and leave the fourth inning with a 14-0 lead.

Propelled by the big inning and their overall offensive outpouring, the Chippewas left game two of their three-game series with a 24-4 win over the Eagles, reaching 30 wins and their highest scoring output on the season in the process.

“I think even going back to the first, Justin (Simpson) and Garry (Navarra) come into the game and hit absolute rockets,” head coach Jordan Bischel said. “I think that set the tone that our struggles yesterday weren’t going to carry over and then you add on in the second inning and into the fourth. But that’s a really good pitcher we faced, and our guys did a really great job competing with him.”

After dropping the series opener yesterday in which CMU only scored one run, Bischel talked about the importance of bouncing back - especially as the season winds down and the team sets its sights on the postseason. 

“We’ve just had a few times this year where we lost our way at the plate just a little bit,” Bischel said. “Lost our faith in our commitment to what we do, and the positive with that is every time it’s happened, we’ve bounced back really well. I told our guys ‘we gotta challenge ourselves now’. You’re gonna lose games, but let’s not question who we are anymore. Trust who we are, and if we do that, the results will generally be there.”

Indeed, the Chippewas bounced back in just about every area imaginable. In their loss on Friday, they mustered just six hits - a mark which they hit in the third inning on Saturday, ultimately ending with 20 on the day.

Between its 20 hits, eight walks, five batters hit by pitches, the team left 10 runners on base. That number was eight yesterday, though only one base runner managed to score in the loss.

Of the 15 Chippewas to receive at-bats, 11 recorded at least one hit. The only starter left hitless was junior catcher Nick Dardas, although he contributed by turning his drawn walk into a run.

On the mound, CMU rolled out junior right-handed pitcher Keegan Batka to start the game. Going five innings, he allowed a single run on four hits while striking out three.

“As a whole, it’s hard to find games in the last month where our pitching didn’t give us a great chance to win,” Bischel said. “And obviously, (Batka) did the same thing where if it had been a close game nail zeros on the board. It was good to see, he’s throwing it well.”

The Chippewas will welcome the Eagles tomorrow for their series finale, as well as CMU’s final regular season home game. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.