CMU baseball hangs on, beats Miami (Ohio) in 16 innings to secure series win
In the bottom of the 16th inning, Central Michigan (29-14, 15-6) freshman Christian Mitchelle stepped up to the plate with no outs and Robby Morgan IV standing on first. On the fourth pitch of his at bat, Mitchelle walked his team off with an RBI double to left field sending Morgan from first all the way home to give the Chippewas a 3-2 series-closing win over Miami (Ohio) (15-31, 10-14) on Sunday.
For head coach Jordan Bischel, Mitchelle’s experience - or lack thereof - wasn’t a concern in such a high-leverage situation.
“Christian is pretty mature beyond his years,” Bischel said. “We’ve seen that all year. And now that we’re 40 plus games in and he’s played every day, he’s pretty experienced too.”
Mitchelle, who started the game at third base, has worn many hats for CMU this season. When not manning the hot corner, he can usually be found on the mound, as he has served as a reliever on top of his contributions in the field and at the plate.
In addition to his game-winning hit, Mitchelle was called upon to pitch with one out in the ninth inning, replacing graduate pitcher Ryan Palmblad.
Not only did he help the Chippewas escape the ninth inning tied 2-2, but he also pitched innings 10-12. He faced 14 batters and only allowed three hits, while striking out another three.
“It all just starts with practicing and little things outside of practice,” Mitchelle said of his preparation for moments like Sunday. “A lot of our guys get together and do other things (outside of) practice. Practice really prepares us, but we all want to take (preparation) to the next level and do things on our own, which will really help (us with that).”
While the contest spanned nearly 16 full innings, scoring was rather scarce throughout the game despite the 25 combined hits from both teams.
The RedHawks totaled 12 more at-bats than CMU but left 23 runners on base. Twelve of those came in four innings, as Miami left the bases loaded in innings 12, 14, 15 and 16.
While the process of allowing bases loaded that many times during extra innings by the Chippewas’ pitching staff wasn’t ideal, the ability to get out of so many jams ultimately allowed them to escape with a win.
“That’s tough to do,” Bischel said. “We had a couple (jams) early in the game. Garrett (Navarra) got out of some jams to keep us where we were. Then it just happened one after another. We got lucky once on the lineout to third with two outs. We’ll take that. But those guys just continued to bow their neck and did a great job.”
Morgan and junior infielder Danny Wuestenfeld were the only players from CMU to register a multi-hit game. Both went 2-for-6, and both were intentionally walked in at-bats during extra innings.
Wuestenfeld was responsible for one of the Chippewas’ three runs on an RBI single up the middle in the sixth inning, while junior catcher Nick Dardas hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning, scoring Morgan for the first run of the game.
Miami junior outfielder Stephen Krause was responsible for both of his team’s runs. He hit a solo home run off of Navarra in the third inning and registered an RBI single in the eighth inning to tie the game at two.
The Chippewas are back in action at 3 p.m. on Friday as they begin their three-game weekend series against Eastern Michigan at Theunissen Stadium.