'It's that synergy of our offense': CMU baseball wins rubber match against EMU on senior day


Graduate student Justin Simpson throws the ball to first base Friday, March 24, in Theunnissen Stadium.

Central Michigan baseball (31-15, 17-7) celebrated its senior day in style, beating Eastern Michigan (22-23, 8-16) in a rubber match on Sunday 7-5, as well as its fifth straight series and final regular season home series.

The Chippewas received contributions from players of all classes and experience levels in the contest. Standing out among seniors who were honored on senior day was graduate infielder Justin Simpson, who chipped in three hits, two RBIs and a walk.

“Always feels good to get the last one on the home turf for the season,” Simpson said. “Hopefully it’s not our last game. Hopefully we can take care of business in the last six (conference games) and be back here for the MAC tournament, but it does feel good, especially as a senior. Always nice to leave a place on a good send off.”

Another senior making his last regular season appearance at Theunissen Stadium was Garrett Navarra, a graduate right-handed pitcher who got the start on the mound on Sunday. He went five and a third innings while giving up two runs on six hits and striking out five.

Navarra, who plays a key role for CMU both on the mound and in the lineup as a batter, ranks second on the team in batting average (.311) and second in ERA (3.90). He also ranks second in strikeouts with 65.

However, some of the youngsters also gave the Chippewas a boost with their play. Redshirt freshman Luke Sefcik produced three hits of his own, one of which was a solo home run in the top of the sixth to give CMU its first run. He also smacked a two RBI triple down the right field line, leaving him just one double shy of hitting for the cycle.

Also getting in on the action was freshman infielder/pitcher Christian Mitchelle. His day consisted of two doubles at the plate - one of which represented the game-tying run in the top of the eighth to even the score up at 5-5 as well as two runs scored and a stolen base.

On top of the work he did at the plate, Mitchelle was called upon in the top of the ninth. With two outs and runners at first and second, Mitchelle induced a ground ball to the first baseman Robbie Morgan IV as he finished the play for the final out. 

CMU head coach Jordan Bischel was quick to acknowledge the contributions from these players today, regardless of age or experience.

“What was fun today, is Luke (Sefcik) who’s a redshirt freshman, just (had) some massive hits,” Bischel said. “Christian (Mitchelle), who’s a true freshman - huge hit, huge finish on the mound. And as we talk about, it’s that synergy of our offense one to nine. Not one guy has to do it. We just gotta stay strong one to nine and we saw that today.”

The Chippewas did much of their damage - and ultimately won the game - during the eighth inning. On top of Mitchelle’s RBI double to tie the game, they plated another two runs after. Mitchelle took home on a wild pitch then junior outfielder Jacob Donahue scored on a Simpson single to push the CMU lead to 7-5.

The Chippewas will return to action for a midweek non-conference game against Ohio State in Columbus on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CMU has eight games remaining on its regular season schedule, including six Mid-American Conference games.