Over this lovely, sunny Memorial Day weekend (at least in Southwestern Ohio it has been) I was able to relax with friends and keep tabs on the ever-exciting world of sports from the comfort of several couches and comfortable pieces of furniture. Aside from three consecutive losses to my buddy Garrett in NBA 2K15 (the dude always picks a team with a superstar player and proceeds to score 50-60+ with the guy regardless of how I play him defensively), it was a non-stress inducing weekend in my time away from Athens and outside my Columbus internship.
MAC Championship Baseball
After sleeping in on Sunday before heading to numerous family functions, I awoke to find the MAC twitterverse in chaos about the (oh GOSH A BIRD JUST HIT THE FRONT WINDOW OF MY HOUSE) crazy finish to Saturday's games in the MAC Championship baseball tournament. The tourney as a whole was insane.
So let me get this straight: After Ohio University's Connor Sitz's (now 7-2 and posting a 4.62 ERA on the year) incredible no-hitter on Saturday, the first of its kind in MAC tournament history, the weekend got even more exciting. How so?
Well later on, Akron and Ball State battled one another in back-to-back nail-biting, possibly stress-vomit-inducing games.
Akron, facing elimination and down 8-1 in the bottom of the ninth in the early afternoon game, stormed back with an incredible bottom half of the last inning. 12 Zips made their way to the plate in the inning, and with a bunch of singles (and one double) moved eight runners around the bases for the win over a presumably deflated Cardinals squad. A Billy Salem single to center scored Daulton Mosbarger for the 9-8 win and kept Akron's season alive.
But at 8pm, the two tides took the field in Avon once more and yet another titanic struggle ensued.
Akron took an 8-5 lead to into the bottom of the ninth after posting early leads of 5-0 and 6-2, before Ball State responded with three runs of its own. Two runs in the top of the sixth made it 8-5 in favor of Akron, the score that would hold until the last inning.
BSU has its final chance and took advantage of several Zip miscues. The Cardinals loaded the bases but then made the second out of the inning on a strikeout. Brandon Estep cracked a single to center that plated all three runners to tie things up 8-8, bringing up Scott Tyler who subsequently walked. Zach Plesac followed with a single to score Estep for the winning run to bring equilibrium in another 9-8 result.
In the championship matchup between BSU and OU, the latter of whom has the biggest win turnaround in the NCAA this season with a 25-game win improvement. And this, a season after going 11-40, the Ohio Bobcats are MAC champs. The sad thing is, I never even went to a game this season in Athens. But, whatever. The 'Cats had the MAC Player of the year (Mitch Longo) MAC pitcher of the year (Logan Cozart), and WON THE MAC CHAMPIONSHIP with a 6-2 victory over Ball State. Here's the celebration from the dugout from my fellow OU Journalism colleague Christian Hoppens.
Gosh I wish I had been in Avon over this weekend.
Lots of thoughts and summary of the end to the MAC baseball tournament right there, I know you needed that. You're welcome.
Elsewhere on Hustle Belt
- So we're going to be doing a top 70 list of MAC football players. I say we all vote Jordan Lynch. And if that isn't right up your alley, you can always go with AJ Ouellette. He is our new God now.
- As always, great job to the recruiting folks who go more in-depth with this stuff than many major blogs do. And they do it on their own time. You all are studs. Great job Mike. Further, from this linked article, I was really impressed by the game of Kato Nelson from Flanagan High School in Florida (formerly and in these highlights from Hialeah Champagnat Catholic HS). He's a 3-star player, and I can't imagine the big boys will let a MAC School get their hands on him, but wouldn't it set off jubilation among Akron fans if they could get this guy? Great arm, accurate, quick feet, play-making ability, and he does a fantastic job of keeping his eyes down the field when he's scrambling. The dude is a play-maker. Wouldn't it be nice for the Terry Bowden and squad if they could nab this kid?
- Hey Everett Golson, folks in Athens would have showered you with love. Should have chose us over Florida State. Who am I kidding? He'll probably win an ACC championship and be in the picture for the playoffs with the Seminoles.
- Then there's this. I love y'all Fleck and crew, but $400,000???? Also: THE BAND HAS 305 MEMBERS? WMU may be 0-6 in bowl games in its history, but that winless mark won't hold up for long. This program has turned around remarkably in a short time, and Fleck has this program going places. It's only a matter of time before he scores a BIG job, but probably not before making WMU a premier MAC program.
- For more fun MAC news, look at Keith Scheessele's article.
- Michael Sam has signed with the CFL's Montreal Alouette's (not to be confused with the AJ Ouellette). Hooray for him. Plenty of guys have made the transition from Canada to a roster spot on an NFL squad, so maybe this could springboard him. Maybe it won't and he'll be successful there anyway. I anxiously await what happens there.
- Watching the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Playoffs has been a treat. Stephen Curry is out of this world. Draymond Green is my favorite player in the NBA, and they're just a ridiculously deep team. I need a GS-CLE finals.
- The Reds have lost seven straight (eight if they lose the one that they're playing in as I type this article). I sad. I have a sad. I experience much sad.