CMU baseball loses to Kent State, knocking Chippewas out of the semi-finals
When it dropped its first game of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, Central Michigan baseball was at an uphill battle if it wanted to repeat as MAC Champion in 2023.
But that doesn’t make an early exit of the conference tournament any easier for the two-seeded Chippewas.
On Friday, CMU lost 10-2 to tournament host Kent State in the semi-finals, knocking the Chippewas out of the tournament and wrapping up their season with a 34-23 overall record and a 20-13 in-conference record.
CMU was competitive for the entirety of each of its first two games, taking Ball State all the way to the ninth inning in game one and handling business with Western Michigan in its only tournament win in game two. For seven innings, the same was true of Friday’s contest.
Then the eighth inning arrived.
Starting the inning on the mound for the Chippewas was graduate reliever Ryan Palmblad, who entered the game in relief of freshman starting pitcher Evan Waters.
Palmblad only made it through three batters in the eighth, allowing a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt used to advance runners.
Redshirt junior reliever Ryan Insco was called upon to replace Palmblad, who gave up an RBI single to his first batter. An error on the throw allowed another run to score and the Chippewas found themselves down 7-2.
After a miscue on the throw in, Insco was quickly replaced by freshman infielder/reliever Christian Mitchelle. To add insult to injury, CMU intentionally walked Kent State infielder Aidan Longwell before Mitchelle gave up a three-run home run to junior infielder Michael McNamara, giving the Golden Flashes an eight-run advantage behind their five-run frame as the Chippewas were down to their final three outs.
CMU did not make a dent in the lead during its last-ditch attempt to advance in the top of the ninth. Aside from a Navarra double, all other Chippewas were retired to close the game.
Though he was not in position to save the game as a reliever, Mitchelle was effective from the plate during CMU’s tournament run. His line of 1-for-3 and two drawn walks on Friday solidified his three-game line of 5-for-11, two walks and two runs scored for the tournament.
Mitchelle, a true freshman from Romeoville, Illinois, was named to the All-MAC Second Team following the conclusion of the regular season.
Drawing just his fourth start of the season, Waters is another true freshman who performed admirably on the biggest stage that the Chippewas had the chance to play on this season. He sacrificed four hits through three and a third innings but allowed as many earned runs as hits.
Despite its struggles to produce runs consistently, CMU’s lineup delivered plenty of baserunners. Between eight hits and eight walks, the Chippewas left 13 runners on base in total.
Leading the way for the Chippewas offensively was Navarra, as he was the only member of CMU’s lineup to register a multi-hit game. He delivered one of his team’s two RBIs.
Mitchelle and graduate infielder Justin Simpson drew two walks each. Four other Chippewas drew a single walk.