Central Michigan Maintains Division Lead With Series Win At Bowling Green

USA TODAY Sports

The Chippewas traveled to Bowling Green with a half-game lead over Ball State in the MAC West. They returned to Mount Pleasant with that lead, but the Falcons got the final blow on Sunday.

The MAC West Division-leading Central Michigan Chippewas invaded Bowling Green's Steller Field for a three-game weekend series and emerged with two wins in three games. The series victory allowed CMU to maintain a one-half game lead over Ball State in the division race, and they are tied with Kent State for the best conference record in the league.

GAME 1 - Central Michigan 7, BOWLING GREEN 6

In the series opener, Central Michigan overcame four errors and a ninth-inning deficit to earn a 7-6 victory.

The top of the order dominated for the Chippewas, as Nick Reginer, Logan Reginer and Tyler Huntey combined to get seven hits in 14 at-bats, scored five runs and drove in four. Cleanup hitter Cody Leichman added two more hits. CMU's starting pitcher, Jordan Foley, allowed six runs but only one was earned. He was able to get through seven innings and did himself a huge favor by not walking anyone.

For BGSU, Brian Bien and Andrew Kubuski earned five hits at the top of the Falcons' order, but they combined for just one run and drove in none. Starting pitcher Mike Frank scattered seven hits but walked two and hit two other batters, and that ultimately resulted in five runs allowed, four of which were earned. Jason Link drew the loss by allowing two runs in the ninth.

The game was scoreless until the fourth inning. CMU led off the fourth with a single, then loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch and another single. Frank hit Adam Collins with another pitch to drive in the first run of the game. After a strikeout, Alex Borglin singled to right. Huntey scored from third for a 2-0 lead, but when Leichman tried to score from second, BGSU right fielder Jesse Rait threw a dart to T.J. Losby, who tagged Leichman out at home. Frank was able to induce a ground out by the next batter to end the inning.

BGSU finally scored in the fifth inning and took the lead with three unearned runs, none of which resulted in an RBI. The first two batters reached on a single and a hit-by-pitch, and Rait attempted to sacrifice both runners into scoring position. Foley pounced on the bunt, but he tried to retire Patrick Lancaster at third. He threw wildly, and Lancaster scored on the play. Both Logan Walker and Rait advanced to scoring position. Bien then struck out, but the final pitch in the sequence was wild. Bien was able to reach first safely, while Walker scored and Rait moved to third. Rait scored to give the Falcons a 3-2 lead when Kubuski grounded into a double play.

The Falcons scored twice more in the sixth, and errors again played a key role. T.J. Losby doubled to lead off the inning, and Jake Thomas tried to sacrifice him to third. Foley could not field the bunt cleanly, and Thomas reached first safely while Losby advanced to third. Foley attempted to pick off Thomas unsuccessfully, and inexplicably, Leichman tried to throw out Losby at third. His throw was high, and Losby scored while Thomas rounded all the way to third. Thomas scored for a 5-2 BGSU lead on a Lancaster single later in the inning; that was Bowling Green's first RBI of the game.

The Chippewas quickly tied the game in the top of the seventh. Nick Regnier dialed up a single to drive home Pat MacKenzie, and Morgan Oliver scored on a throwing error by first baseman Jeremy Shay. Huntey then chased Frank from the game and tied the contest 5-5 on a double that scored Regnier. In the bottom half, Bowling Green reclaimed the lead at 6-5. Bien and Kubuski led off the inning with a pair of bunt singles, and Leichman committed CMU's fourth error of the game. That allowed Bien to move up to third, and he scored on a ground out by Shay.

Jason Link, who replaced Frank in the seventh, threw a perfect eighth inning to put himself in position to earn the win in the ninth. Oliver lined out to Bien at shortstop for the first out, but Nick Regnier singled with one out. Logan Regnier tied the game at 6 when he drove home Nick on a triple. Huntey then gave CMU a 7-6 lead when he drove Logan home with a bunt single. However, the Falcons held CMU from scoring further despite two more Chippewa hits and a BGSU error, as Bowling Green retired runners at home and third for the final two outs of the inning.

Tim Black pitched the bottom of the ninth and gave up back-to-back hits to Bien and Kubuski. However, Bien was thrown out trying to steal second with Kubuski at the plate, and Shay flied out to Logan Regnier in right field to end the game with Kubuski, the tying run, at first.

The final two games of the series would be nowhere near as dramatic.

GAME 2 - Central Michigan 16, BOWLING GREEN 2

Central Michigan scored two runs in the first inning and seven more in the second, and they never looked back on their way to a 16-2 rout of Bowling Green in the second game of the three-game series.

The Chippewas pounded four home runs, including Tyler Huntey's first career grand slam, and notched season-high marks for runs and hits. In fact, the 16 runs were the most by Central Michigan in one game since they scored 19 against Ball State exactly one year prior.

Aside from his grand slam, Huntey posted two hits in his other four at-bats and scored two other runs. Cody Leichman was 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs, including a home run. Adam Collins poked two hits in four at-bats, drove in three runs and scored once. In total, all nine of CMU's starting lineup scored at least once. Eight of the nine earned at least one hit, and seven drove in at least one run. On the mount, Pat Kaminska improved to 6-1 on the season by throwing seven innings of five-hit ball. He allowed one run, but it wasn't earned. He also struck out five without walking a batter. Perhaps the only down note of the game for CMU was their four errors on defense.

Bowling Green, after falling behind early by a substantial margin, used up their bench early. The Falcons ultimately substituted for all nine players in their starting lineup and used a total of five pitchers. Backup catcher Trey Keegan led the team with two hits in three at-bats in relief of T.J. Losby. Starting pitcher Devin Daugherty posted his second loss (2-2) by giving up seven runs, all earned, in just 1 2/3 innings. Ben Singer relieved Daugherty and got BGSU through the fifth inning, but he allowed six more runs, five of which were earned.

Three straight one-out singles helped CMU take an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the Falcons scored one of their own in the bottom half. CMU then put the game away in the second. The Chippewas loaded the bases with one out after a leadoff double, sacrifice bunt, walk and hit-by-pitch. It appeared as if Daugherty might escape the jam when he struck out Logan Regnier for the second out of the inning. However, Huntey crushed a full-count pitch to left for a grand slam and a 6-0 lead. Leichman played long-ball down the left field line on the next pitch, and the back-to-back bombs chased Daugherty. CMU ultimately scored twice more in the inning for a 9-1 lead.

CMU continued to pile on with runs in the fourth (1), fifth (3), seventh (2) and eighth (1) for a 16-1 lead before BGSU finally scored again in the bottom of the eighth for the final 16-2 margin.

GAME 3 - BOWLING GREEN 17, Central Michigan 8

Bowling Green salvaged the final game of the series with Central Michigan by exploding for 17 runs in a blowout victory over the Chippewas on Sunday.

The Falcons actually trailed 1-0 after CMU's initial time at the plate, but they built a 7-1 lead and then scored a nine-spot in the seventh for a 17-3 edge. The 17 runs were the most by BGSU in a MAC game in nearly four years. Their last such explosion in a conference game was a 21-5 win at Ohio on April 23, 2010.

Much like CMU in the game on Saturday, the entire Bowling Green lineup contributed. All nine starters scored at least once and finished with at least one hit. Seven of the nine drove in at least one run. Jeremy Shay and Trey Keegan led the way with three hits and two runs scored apiece. Shay drove in four runs, and Keegan sent home two more. Brian Bien went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored, and Brandon Howard led the Falcons with three runs scored. Andrew Lacinak picked up his third win of the season (3-3) after throwing 5 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs and six hits, and he struck out four Chippewa batters.

Adam Collins and Tyler Huntey both notched three hits in five at-bats for CMU, and both scored one run each. Collins also drove in two runs, as did Nick Regnier and Morgan Oliver. Nick Deeg dropped to 3-3 after giving up three runs in four innings.

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The Chippewas had some outstanding individual performances this weekend at the plate. Nick Regnier was 4-for-14 with four runs and four RBI. Logan Regnier reached seven times in 15 at-bats with five runs scored. Huntey punched out eight hits in 14 at-bats with six RBI and five runs scored. Leichman and Collins combined for 12 hits in 26 trips to the plate with eight RBI and five runs scored. However, their defense left much to be desired -- CMU combined for 11 errors ruing the series.

Central Michigan is now 22-14 overall and 10-2 in conference play. The Chippewas will host Michigan State on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. EST and will then resume MAC play in DeKalb, Ill. against Northern Illinois on Friday.

Bowling Green drops to 13-19 overall and 5-7 in the MAC. The series against CMU was their last against Western Division foes; their final five conference series are against the other five teams in the East. That gauntlet begins next weekend at Akron. Prior to the trip to face the Zips, BGSU will host Findlay on Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. EST.

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