Baseball rebounds to split MAC Twinbill with Kent State
03/26/2023 | 1 p.m.
March 26 (Sunday) / 1 p.m.
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — All day Friday, Central Michigan had been threatening but largely failed to capitalize.
Then the floodgates opened.
The Chippewas sent 12 men to the plate as they scored seven runs in the sixth inning in an 11-4 win over Kent State in the last drink of a Mid-American Conference baseball doubleheader at Keilitz Field in Theunissen Stadium.
CMU blocked 13 baserunners and left bases loaded twice as they dropped the opener, 4-3.
The split left CMU 12-9, 3-2 MAC; the Golden Flashes are 16-6, 4-1. The teams are due to play the rubber match of the three-game series on Sunday (1 p.m.) at Theunissen.
“I told the guys after the game that we’ve gotten really good at bouncing back from tough losses, now we have to stop having tough losses,” CMU coach Jordan Bischel said.
The Chippewas had just seven hits in Game 2 but walked 11 and capitalized on four Kent State errors, including two in the bottom of the sixth.
Three of those walks followed, then Marquis Jackson delivered an RBI single with one out to break a 2-2 tie.
“Marquis’ hit was probably the biggest play in this game,” Bischel said. “We had guys all day and we just hadn’t found one in those situations; Marquis split one in half and it just kicked us off and obviously some guys followed suit there.
“It feels good to break through with a bunch of big hits. They say hitting is contagious, and you saw it there.”
Justin Simpson walked to force a run to make it 4-2, then Jacob Donahue hit a slow ground ball. The Golden Flashes attempted to bring Christian Mitchelle down to the plate, but Mitchelle beat the pitch home to make it 5-2.
Garrett Navara scored a single in a run, then Robby Morgan IV kicked a two-run brace to center right to make it 8-2. A Kent State error resulted in another run to give the Chippewas a 9-2 lead.
It was a lot for starter Chippewa Keegan Batka (3-3), who allowed two runs on five hits while striking out six and walking two in 6 2/3 innings.
The Chippewas held a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth when Kent State got a first single, then the second batter hit it on an error.
After a groundout, the Golden Flashes had runners on first and third with one out. They missed in the tying spot, but Batka limited the damage by setting up to get a game-ending groundout.
“We pitched well all day,” Bischel said. “Keegan was exceptional and another big key to this game was that sixth inning. It could have easily turned into a big inning against the (Kent State) offense. But (Batka) kept them to one, kept the game tied and we got the big rally after that.”
The Chippewas rebounded from a frustrating 12-inning opener in which they grounded 13 base runners and left the bases loaded twice, including in the 10th. They also failed two in the 11th.
Kent State’s Brody Williams hit a two-run homer off reliever Ryan Palmblad in the seventh to tie the game, 3-3.
The Golden Flashes kicked off in the 12th when Williams led off with a single, was dropped to second, took third on a pitch, and scored on a two-out Collin Mathews single.
Palmblad (1-2) took the loss. He played six innings in relief to starter Adam Mrakitsch. The two struck out seven.
Not only did the Chippewas fail a dozen bakers, but they made a number of baseline errors that clearly cost them potential runs.
“We made some unusual mistakes and (Kent State) played the opener really well,” Bischel said. “We’re a pretty good grassroots racing team in general and we just made a few unusual mistakes and at that point you have no choice but to bounce back and we did a good job.”