The final day of the Mid-American Conference baseball regular season is upon us. There is still both seed positioning and one tournament berth up for grabs as the conference culminates three months of the 2017 campaign.
Two of the three remaining open tournament berths were claimed on Friday. Northern Illinois watched as Miami scored a pair of ninth inning runs to send that game to extra innings tied at 5-5, but the Huskies poured on six runs in the 11th for an 11-7 win. That win clinched NIU’s ticket to Avon. It also helped Western Michigan, whose game against Buffalo was rained out. The Broncos’ trip to the MAC Tournament was clinched when both Miami and Toledo lost.
Central Michigan had an even better ninth-inning rally than Miami. The Chippewas scored four in the ninth to win 8-6. The final three runs came on a walk-off home run, and CMU used it to clinch the Western Division title and #2 seed in the MAC Tournament.
Elsewhere, Ohio became the first team to win a MAC series from Kent State in 2017 with an 8-5 victory. The Bobcats now have a chance to finish in the top three with a win on Saturday.
The one remaining tournament berth is available to four teams: Buffalo, Miami, Toledo and Bowling Green. Buffalo is win-once-and-in territory, while the other three teams need a miracle.
Below is a look at Friday’s scores, the current standings, and a complete look at what remains at stake for the final day of the regular season.
Friday’s MAC Finals (home teams in CAPS):
Buffalo at WESTERN MICHIGAN, ppd. (rain)
OHIO 8, Kent State 5
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 8, Ball State 6
EASTERN MICHIGAN 4, Toledo 3
Northern Illinois 11, MIAMI 7 (11 inn.)
Saturday’s MAC Schedule
Buffalo at Western Michigan (Game 1), 11:00 a.m.
Kent State at Ohio, 1:00 p.m.
Northern Illinois at Miami, 1:00 p.m.
Toledo at Eastern Michigan, 1:00 p.m.
Ball State at Central Michigan, 2:00 p.m.
Buffalo at Western Michigan (Game 2), 4:00 p.m.
|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 Golden Flashes have clinched the #1 seed in the MAC Tournament, the Eastern Division title, and a share of the overall MAC regular season crown. They will win the latter outright with either a win or a Central Michigan loss on Saturday.
The Chippewas’ three-run walk-off home run on Friday cemented the team’s 2017 Western Division championship and the #2 seed in the MAC Tournament. The team can earn a share of the MAC’s regular season title with a win and a Kent State loss on Saturday.
The Eagles’ comeback win over Toledo on Friday did not clinch anything, but they are on the threshold of the #3 tournament seed. The only way EMU isn’t the third seed is if they lose and both Ball State and Ohio win on Saturday. In that event, a three-way tie at 14-10, EMU would drop to #4.
The Bobcats are the first MAC team in 2017 to win a series from Kent State, and they are now in position to finish in the top four. A win on Saturday would clinch no worse than the #4 tournament seed thanks to a series sweep of Ball State earlier in the season.
If Ohio and Ball State win and EMU loses, the Bobcats would win a three-way tie for the third seed by virtue of their series win over Kent State (Ohio and Ball State were both swept by the Flashes). The only way Ohio takes the #5 seed is with a loss and a Ball State win.
The Cardinals’ heartbreaking loss at CMU on Friday removed them from contention for anything higher than the #4 seed. To get the #4, they must win and Ohio must lose on Saturday. Anything else, and they will be the #5 seed in Avon.
The Broncos were rained out on Friday. However, they managed to clinch a tournament berth when both Miami and Toledo lost. For WMU, the scenario is simple. If they win at least once against Buffalo during Saturday’s doubleheader, they will be the #6 seed. If they lose both ends, they will be the #7 seed with a Miami win over NIU and the #8 seed with a Miami loss.
Somehow, the Huskies survived a furious Miami rally on Friday to win in extra innings. The win clinched a spot in Avon for NIU. The Huskies will be the #7 seed if WMU beats Buffalo at least once on Saturday. If Buffalo wins both games at WMU, then NIU will be the #6 seed with a win at Miami and the #8 seed with a loss.
Of the four remaining teams in contention for the final tournament spot, the Bulls are easily in the best shape and the only one of the four that could rise higher than the #8 seed. Buffalo will clinch the final spot by sweeping a doubleheader at WMU on Saturday. They would then be the #6 seed if NIU loses at Miami or the #7 seed if NIU wins.
Buffalo also gets in by splitting the doubleheader with WMU. In that case, they would be the #8 seed and open the MAC Tournament against Kent State. The Bulls would be eliminated if they lose twice on Saturday.
The Rockets have only one avenue to Avon. They must win at EMU, and Buffalo must lose both games at WMU. If they get in, Toledo would be the #8 seed and open against Kent State.
The RedHawks also have only one way in. They must win, Toledo must lose, and Buffalo must lose both of their games. They would also be the #8 seed and open against Kent State.
The Falcons’ path to the tournament is the most extreme. BGSU must rely on losses by Toledo and Miami, as well as two losses by Buffalo. Their reward would be a date with Kent State.