We are now down to the final four teams at the 2017 Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament. Both Eastern Michigan and Kent State comfortably survived elimination scares from Western Michigan and Toledo, respectively. Those two teams will now go on to face Central Michigan and Ohio for the right to play for the MAC championship.
Due to today’s results, we are guaranteed a East vs. West final. Recaps and updated tournament schedule are below.
Eastern Michigan earned revenge for their opening-round loss to Western Michigan in the MAC Tournament by knocking out the Broncos in the opener of Friday’s elimination doubleheader. WMU beat EMU 6-5 on Wednesday but gave up 28 runs in the following two games. Their offense simply could not match the output.
The Eagles scored in the first inning and never trailed again. Jordan Peterson singled to begin EMU’s first inning. He advanced to second on a wild pitch by WMU starter Jimm Townsend-Chase and went to third on catcher Alex Goodwin’s throwing error. Peterson scored on a ground out by Jeremy Stidham.
EMU added another three runs in their following turn at bat. Townsend-Chase walked Nick Jones to start the inning and then gave up a run-scoring double to Marquise Gill. Gill moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Drake Peggs hit a grounder to second baseman Nick Vogelmeier. That ball was booted, and as a result, Peggs came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Stidham for a 4-0 lead.
WMU loaded the bases with nobody out on a walk and two hit batters in the fourth but could not score. That allowed the game to break wide open in the fourth when Eastern Michigan touched Nic Laio and Zach Mehelich for five runs. That included run-scoring hits from Gill, Max Schuemann and John Montgomery.
The Broncos scored twice in the fifth but fell behind further when the Eagles posted another three runs in the seventh inning. Hopelessly down 12-2, Western Michigan added four runs over the final two innings to cut the final score to 12-6.
Luke DeVenney made a spot start and threw three scoreless innings. Justin McMurtrey allowed six earned runs and eight hits but pitched five key innings that provided rest for the remainder of EMU’s bullpen. Justin Thompson came in for the final three outs, including a game-ending double play. Gill led the offense with three hits, including a double, and three RBI. Stidham and Montgomery each walked twice and drove in two runs.
Townsend-Chase picked up WMU’s season-ending loss by allowing four runs (two earned) in two innings, as he retired just six of the 15 batters he faced. Laio and Mehelich gave up four earned runs apiece. Gabe Berman and Jake Bartels threw a pair of scoreless innings to finish the game. Nate Grys was the offensive star for WMU. He blasted a pair of home runs and drove in three of the team’s six runs.
EMU advances to Saturday’s semifinal round against #2 seed Central Michigan. The Eagles must beat CMU twice in order to advance to Sunday’s championship. The Chippewas need to beat EMU only once.
Kent State lived to play another day and dispatched Toledo from the 2017 MAC Tournament with a 6-3 victory over the Rockets on Friday evening. Jared Skolnicki pitched into the eighth inning for his fifth win of the season, while Dylan Rosa launched a home run to help propel the Flashes to the semifinals.
Skolnicki stranded two Toledo runners in scoring position in the first inning and then watched as his offense gifted him a three-run cushion. With one out, Rockets’ starter Joey Prechtel issued two straight walks and hit Rosa too load the bases. Zach Schultz earned a productive out by hitting a roller to second that scored the first run. Pete Schuler followed with a two-run single to right field for a 3-0 lead. Another walk chased Prechtel, and Dom Iero worked another walk from reliever Luke Schaefer before a fly out left the bases loaded.
Toledo left four more runners on over the next four innings before Kent State extended the lead to 4-0 on Rosa’s fifth inning leadoff dinger. The Flashes concluded their scoring in the seventh with a two-run, two-out single by Iero.
Skolnicki dominated Rocket batters for 7-2/3 innings, as he permitted just five hits and a walk as the Flashes built their six-run lead. He finally ran out of gas with two outs in the eighth. Dalton Bollinger and Ross Adolph lined a pair of singles to bring up A.J. Montoya, who snuck a ball over the left field fence for a three-run homer. Zach Spangler entered the game for Skolnicki and induced a ground ball to maintain a 6-3 edge.
Robert Zeigler, who tied for the KSU lead with five saves in 2017, started the ninth with a pair of walks and had to give way to Patrick Dayton. Matt Hansen, Riley Campbell and Brad Boss each faced Dayton as the potential game-tying run. Dayton struck out each, including Boss on a swinging third strike to end the contest.
Toledo completes their season with a 17-41 mark, while Kent State improves to 37-16 and advances to the MAC’s final four teams. They will face the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday and will need to beat Ohio twice in order to earn a spot in the championship game. The Bobcats need just one win to move on.
MAC Tournament Schedule
|Game 1||#6 W. Michigan||6||#3 E. Michigan||5||(10 inn.)|
|Game 2||#2 C. Michigan||6||#7 N. Illinois||2|
|Game 3||#1 Kent State||7||#8 Toledo||0|
|Game 4||#5 Ohio||4||#4 Ball State||3|
|Game 5||#3 E. Michigan||8||#7 N. Illinois||7||(NIU eliminiated)|
|Game 6||#8 Toledo||15||#4 Ball State||5||(BSU eliminated)|
|Game 7||#2 C. Michigan||16||#6 W. Michigan||5|
|Game 8||#5 Ohio||5||#1 Kent State||3|
|Game 9||#3 E. Michigan||12||#6 W. Michigan||6||(WMU eliminated)|
|Game 10||#1 Kent State||6||#8 Toledo||3||(Toledo eliminated)|
|Game 11||#3 E. Michigan||9||#2 C. Michigan||1|
|Game 12||#5 Ohio||7||#1 Kent State||2||(KSU eliminated)|
|Game 13||#3 E. Michigan||4||#2 C. Michigan||2||(10 inn.; CMU eliminated)|
|Game 15||#5 Ohio||#3 E. Michigan||5/28 @ 12:00 pm|
|Game 16||Repeat of Game 15*||*if EMU wins Game 15||40 min. after|