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Ohio, EMU Set To Play for MAC Baseball Championship

The Eagles and Bobcats are the sole survivors. Who will take the title on Sunday?

The 2017 Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament is down to the final two teams.

On Saturday, Ohio knocked out top-seed Kent State with a single victory, while Eastern Michigan came to the brink of elimination but won a pair of games from #2 seed CMU.

This sends the #3 seed Eastern Michigan and the #5 seed Ohio to the championship round. As the undefeated winner of their half of the bracket, Ohio has a clear advantage over EMU, who already has one loss. Ohio needs only to beat EMU once to capture their second MAC title in three years. EMU must beat Ohio twice to win their first title since 2008.

#3 Eastern Michigan Eagles 9, #2 Central Michigan Chippewas 1

#3 Eastern Michigan Eagles 4, #2 Central Michigan Chippewas 2 (10 inn.; CMU eliminated)

Eastern Michigan needed to beat their in-state rival Central Michigan twice on Saturday to earn a spot in the championship of the 2017 MAC Tournament. The Eagles accomplished just that in both dominating and dramatic fashion.

EMU scored three times in the first inning of the opening game and never had to sweat a comeback attempt. Jordan Peterson led off the game with a walk against CMU starter Dazon Cole. Mike Mioduszewski worked another walk, and Jeremy Stidham singled to load the bases with nobody out. Each of the three eventually crossed the plate. Peterson came home on a sacrifice fly before Mioduszewski crossed on a ground out. Max Schuemann drove home Stidham with a single as EMU closed the frame with a 3-0 lead.

The Eagles scored twice more before chasing Cole from the game in the fourth inning. They added three more in the seventh on just one hit against reliever Zach Kohn. CMU finally scored a run in the eighth, but EMU got that back in the final frame for a 9-1 victory.

Davis Feldman started and went the distance for the Eagles to earn his second win of 2017. He allowed just five hits, two walks and one run; he also struck out five batters. Zachary Owings and Nick Jones each went 3-for-5 with two RBI. The win forced an elimination game between the Chippewas and Eagles, with the winner going to the championship game.

CMU’s Michael Brettell started the elimination game and was nearly untouchable early. Through six innings, he permitted only two EMU baserunners and allowed no hits. Unfortunately for the Chippewas, Eagle starter Kevin Shul was just as good. He gave up only one single through five innings.

Finally, CMU broke through in their half of the sixth. Zach Gilles earned a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Alex Borglin. With two outs, Daniel Robinson laced a single up the middle which scored Gilles for a 1-0 lead.

The Eagles threatened for the first time in the seventh. Leadoff batter Jeremy Stidham was hit by a pitch, then John Montgomery doubled to right for EMU’s first hit. Stidham attempted to tie the game, but Borglin took Robinson’s throw and nailed Stidham with a beautiful relay to catcher Robert Greenman. EMU came up with another single and a hit batter to load the bases with one out. However, Brettell induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Eastern Michigan put another pair of baserunners on in the eighth against reliever Colton Bradley. Bradley ended that threat by striking out Stidham swinging, but EMU’s offense kept charging. Bradley blew the save opportunity in the ninth when Max Schuemann blasted a one-out, two-run homer for a 2-1 lead.

CMU evened the game in the bottom half of the ninth when a pair of leadoff walks and a sacrifice bunt led to a sacrifice fly that scored Robinson. However, the game went to extra innings when the Chippewas stranded the potential winning run at second.

Drake Lubin began the tenth with a single against Bradley and ultimately came around to score the go-ahead run on Mike Mioduszewski’s single against a drawn-in infield. Mioduszewski scored an insurance run on a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded. Up 4-2, Justin McMurtrey closed the game by working around a two-out CMU single.

The victory sends Eastern Michigan (27-34) to the MAC championship on Sunday. They will need to win twice to take their first title since 2008. CMU’s season ends with a 31-28 record.

#5 Ohio Bobcats 7, #1 Kent State Golden Flashes 2 (Kent State eliminated)

Ohio continued their undefeated run through the 2017 MAC Tournament on Saturday and eliminated the regular season champion Kent State with a comfortable 7-2 victory. This will mark the fifth straight season in which the top seed will not win the MAC Tournament.

Bobcat starter Tom Colletti was the star of the game. He rolled through Kent State’s offense with nine strikeouts while permitting only three hits and one earned run. Colletti pitched a complete game for his fourth win of the season.

Ohio provided Colletti with a pair of early runs to make him comfortable. In the third inning, they loaded the bases with one out on a single and a pair of walks. Rudy Rott followed with a base hit that scored Tyler Finkler and Spencer Ibarra for a 2-0 lead. Another single re-loaded the bases, but Kent State starter Zach Willeman induced a fly out and a pop out to end the threat.

Pete Schuler provided some hope for the Golden Flashes with a solo home run in the fifth inning. However, Ohio not only got that run back but extended their lead against reliever Connor Wollersheim. In the sixth, Connor Callery was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and later scored on a bunt by Devon Garcia.

Ohio added another pair of runs in the seventh. Ty Black led off with a single, and Michael Klein hit a one-out ground rule double. Black scored on a wild pitch before Callery singled home Klein. KSU answered back with a run in the bottom half after an errant throw from Finkler. However, Klein powered out a two-run homer in the ninth to pad the lead to 7-2.

Colletti allowed a pair of walks and a single in the ninth, but he struck out the side to close the game and send the Bobcats to the championship round.

The Bobcats (30-26) will play for their third MAC championship and first since 2015 on Sunday. They will need just one win against EMU to capture the title. Kent State’s season ends with a 37-18 mark.

MAC Tournament Schedule

-- Team Score Team Score --
-- Team Score Team Score --
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