The final weekend of the Mid-American Conference baseball regular season has begun. Three spots in the eight-team MAC Tournament field are up for grabs among the bottom six teams in the conference, and all six teams were still alive heading into each team’s final series.
If you missed it, we discussed the MAC Tournament clinching scenarios earlier this week.
All six teams remain alive following Thursday’s games. Within that group, Western Michigan scored a pair of ninth-inning runs to beat Buffalo, while Miami pulled a home upset over NIU to remain alive. In addition, Toledo was blasted 18-3 by Eastern Michigan, who has already wrapped up a tournament berth. BGSU needed that loss by the Rockets to stay alive; the Falcons have completed their conference slate and are playing at Elon this weekend.
Kent State solidified their position at the top of the bracket. The Golden Flashes fell at Ohio, 7-6. However, Central Michigan dropped a home contest to Ball State. The Chippewas fell 5-4 after leaving the bases loaded in the eighth inning. Kent State clinched the MAC’s #1 tournament seed and a share of the regular season championship due to CMU’s loss. CMU can still take the outright Western Division title and the #2 tournament seed with a win inn one of their final two games against the Cardinals.
Below is a look at yesterday’s scores, the current standings, and an update to tournament clinching scenarios. We will update again following Friday’s games with a final look at seeding and clinching scenarios for Saturday’s season finales.
Thursday’s MAC Finals (home teams in CAPS):
WESTERN MICHIGAN 6, Buffalo 5
MIAMI 9, Northern Illinois 5
EASTERN MICHIGAN 18, Toledo 3
OHIO 7, Kent State 6
Ball State 5, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 4
|1. Kent State||17||6||--||0.739|
|2. Central Michigan||16||7||1||0.696|
|3. Eastern Michigan||14||9||3||0.609|
|5. Ball State||13||10||4||0.565|
|6. Western Michigan||10||12||6.5||0.455|
|7. Northern Illinois||10||13||7||0.435|
|8. Bowling Green||9||15||8.5||0.375|
The Broncos have not clinched yet, but they are very, very close. All they need is one more win in their final two home games against Buffalo. If they lose both, the only way they can be left out of the party is with two Toledo wins and either two NIU wins or one NIU win and one Ball State win.
The Huskies’ tournament odds declined slightly with their loss today, but they’re still in good shape. They’re in the tournament if they win the next two at Miami. Even with one win, NIU can only be left out if Buffalo, Toledo and CMU all win tomorrow and Saturday.
Northern Illinois can also sneak into the tournament if they are swept by Miami. That would require two more WMU wins and one Toledo win. It could also be accomplished with one WMU win and Ball State finishing ahead of EMU.
Despite losing in walk-off fashion, the Bulls were a huge beneficiary of the losses by NIU and Toledo. The Bulls now essentially have 50/50 odds of making the tournament. They’re in if they win the next two at WMU and out if they lose the next two. If they split, the Bulls need at least one win from NIU and one win from Toledo.
Like the Bulls, the Rockets go to Avon with wins in their final two games and are eliminated with two losses. Unlike the Bulls, a split in the final two does not help much. If they split the next two at EMU, Toledo will then need one NIU win and two WMU wins to get the call to Avon.
The RedHawks took a huge step with their win over Northern Illinois in the series opener, but they still need more wins plus help. Miami is eliminated if they lose the next two to NIU. If they split, then the RedHawks need sweeps from WMU and EMU. If Miami sweeps the Huskies, they need just one WMU win or one EMU win.
BGSU dropped a non-conference heartbreaker at Elon on Thursday, as the Phoenix won 12-11 with a three-run walk-off homer. Meanwhile, their chances of making the tournament are on life support. They have only one avenue to Avon: EMU must sweep Toledo, WMU must sweep Buffalo, and NIU or Miami must win the final two games of their series. BGSU is out if Toledo or Buffalo win a game or if NIU and Miami split their final two. They still have a pulse after Thursday’s game but still need an enormous amount of help.