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2023 Mid-American Conference Baseball Week 7 Recap

The Ohio Bobcats are the big winners of the week as they move into second place in the MAC. Runs were down during an exciting weekend.

NCAA BASEBALL: JUN 02 Lexington Regional - Kentucky v Ohio Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Runs were way down in the MAC this week. It’s almost like the Baseball Gods saw the charts from last week and realized they had let the MAC run a little too hot for a while. After four consecutive weeks of averaging over seven runs per game, the MAC teams produced 5.25 runs per game.

Runs allowed followed as well, down more than two earned runs a game from the previous week. A major reason for that was how well the bullpens performed this week. The average bullpen ERA was 4.16 with a 1.40 WHIP. The season averages prior to this week were 6.71 and 1.73 respectively.

Runs were scored early in games and this week was full of surprises. Western Michigan pitched their way to a series win, Bowling Green took the series from Central Michigan and Ohio swept Eastern Michigan.

Bobcats jump to second after series sweep

Team Conf W Conf L GB Runs For Runs Ag. Win Loss Runs For Runs Ag.
Ball State Cardinals 10 2 +3.5 112 58 20 7 220 143
Ohio Bobcats 8 4 +1.5 92 76 10 14 186 200
Kent State Golden Flashes 6 3 +1 68 50 18 9 234 133
Central Michigan Chippewas 5 4 0 50 49 14 12 171 146
Bowling Green Falcons 6 6 0.5 59 53 11 14 132 148
Toledo Rockets 6 6 0.5 91 85 12 14 184 164
Western Michigan Broncos 4 5 1 47 62 7 18 146 223
Akron Zips 5 7 1.5 58 86 12 15 144 221
Eastern Michigan Eagles 4 8 2.5 74 81 11 13 160 153
Miami RedHawks 4 8 2.5 51 59 7 22 176 230
Northern Illinois Huskies 2 7 3 53 96 5 21 135 229

The top four teams from a week ago remain the same from Week 6, but Ohio jumps from fourth to second after sweeping Eastern Michigan. Eastern Michigan was one game behind Ohio and in the mix for the fourth spot in the MAC Tournament. They are still in the mix, but they dropped a game and a half from where they were a week ago. On the other hand, Ohio moves from a tie for fourth to second and has a game and a half on the cut line.

Ball State goes 2-1 against Akron and stays on top of the conference. The Cardinals have established themselves as the number-one team in the MAC, despite the noise Kent State made early this season. Kent State has looked human in the last couple of series but Central Michigan and Toledo are not pushovers.

Toledo is a half-game out with their series against Kent State and Ball State in the rearview mirror. Central Michigan is later in the season which makes the next couple of weeks their time to stack some wins. The start of the season could have been much worse with their front-loaded schedule, but the Rockets made it through fine.

Central Michigan drops to the team on the cut line after losing a surprising series to Bowling Green. The Chippewas won Game 3 to avoid a sweep, but the upset put them in a tight spot. Western Michigan wins a series against a struggling Miami team and is, for now, a game away from the Chippewas and the MAC Tournament.

Ohio’s bullpen delivers sweep in a critical series

For Ohio to make the MAC Tournament like they did last season, they need to be better than they were a year ago. Ohio is a good baseball program in the MAC but not as consistently strong as Kent State, Central Michigan and Ball State. Last year Kent State was having a down year and the Bobcats took advantage.

That’s not the case this season. Each of the three traditional powers are up, and Ohio needs to win their series against the teams that are also in the race for the fourth spot. Toledo and Eastern Michigan are the most likely suspects and Ohio just swept the Eagles.

The sweep jumps them up into second place and puts EMU into a hole that is going to be difficult to recover from. It’s possible, but now EMU needs help.

Ohio did it with their bullpen and one big offensive inning in each game. Eastern Michigan scored two total runs in innings six to nine in the series and the Ohio bullpen had a 1.32 ERA in the series with 13.2 innings of work. The innings were important too. Eastern Michigan had the lead or was tied in the 5th inning of each game.

The Eagles had a 5-0 lead after four innings in Game 1, but a four-run seventh inning for the Bobcats saved their game. The go-ahead run scored from second on a pass ball:

Eastern Michigan had a 4-2 lead in Game 2 when Ohio scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to win 8-4. Eastern Michigan could not get the bats going after that and got ready for game three.

Game 3 was tied at three heading into the bottom of the sixth when catcher Alex Finney deposited a ball over the left field wall for a three-run home run.

The Eagles did hit five home runs in total, but couldn’t get the runners on base to make it really hurt.

Kent State walks off game three without a hit and wins series

Kent State and Toledo traded Games 1 and 2 to set up a rubber match in Game 3— which was the second game of their Sunday doubleheader. The Friday loss for Kent State was a close game that got away from the Flashes in the seventh and they were unable to recover.

Toledo took advantage of two walks and an error to break the tie in the top of the seventh inning. The Rocket's bullpen didn’t allow a run for the final 4.2 innings of game one and sealed the deal.

Game 2 was heavy on scoring early. There were only two half-innings without runs scored in the first four innings. Jake Casey had critical at-bats for Kent State and drove in two runs in the second with a double and put the Flashes on top with his second double of the game in the fourth.

Collin Mathews hit a solo home run to get the final score, a 6-3 win for Kent State. Toledo left seven runners on base in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings but couldn’t get one more hit to close the gap.

Game 3 is a tough pill to swallow for the Toledo Rockets. Halfway through the seventh the Rockets had a 6-3 lead and stud reliever Cal McAninch on the mound. Colin Mathews had a day and drove in another run with a single. Two batters later, Justin Miknis tied the game with a two-run homer.

The game went to the bottom of the ninth still tied at six. Kent State was playing for one when their leadoff hitter drew a walk. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second. MAC RBI leader Aidan Longwell was intentionally walked, and a groundout moved runners to second and third with two outs. Then the Toledo pitcher couldn’t find the plate.

Back-to-back walks drive in the winning run. Kent State did not have a hit in the inning and “manufactured” a run to win the game and the series. Eric Chalus is the hidden hero of this game for Kent State. Ben Cruikshank got roughed up a little bit and left the game after 2.1 innings. Chalus pitched six innings of three-hit, two-run ball while striking out eight to stop the bleeding and get the game back on track for the Flashes. He had a rare quality start from the bullpen.

Quick Notes:

  • Ball State has trouble with walks again, but survives against Akron. Sammy Tortorella pitches a complete game shutout on Friday for the Akron win, but the Cardinals rebound and win the next two games. Ball State walked 8 per nine innings over the week.
  • Bowling Green took advantage of sloppy play by Central Michigan and won the first two games of the series. The Falcons won the second game with a run in the top of the ninth with a walk, advance on a wild pitch, error, and single sequence.
  • Western Michigan’s pitchers showed up against Miami in the first two games and help the RedHawks to 1 total run. They walked 12 batters as a staff in the finale and Ryland Zaborowski gave enough offense by himself to win that one.
  • Northern Illinois struggled against Xavier and was swept. Their starting pitching gave up too many base runners and couldn’t help themselves with strikeouts.

MAC Team of the Week
C Mason Minzey Ohio 3-10, 3 Runs, 4 RBI, 2 HR, 3 BB
Corner IF Ryland Zaborowski Miami 6-15, 5 Runs, 5 RBI, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 2 BB, HBP
Corner IF Cade Sullivan WMU 6-17, 4 Runs, 5 RBI, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB
Mid IF Jeron Williams Toledo 6-15, 6 Runs, 3 RBI, 3 2B, 3B, HR, 4 BB, 3 SB
Mid IF Justin Simpson CMU 4-12, 2 Runs, 3B, 4 BB, 2 SB
OF Kyle Schroedle EMU 6-15, 3 Runs, 7 RBI, 2B, 2 HR
OF Decker Scheffler Ball State 6-15, 4 Runs, 5 RBI, HR, BB, SB, 3 HBP, Sac Fly
OF AJ Rausch Ohio 5-11, 2 Runs, RBI, 3 BB, 6 SB
Extra Hitter Josh Kross EMU 9-19, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, 2 2B, HR
SP Brady Miller WMU Win, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 10 K, HBP
SP Sammy Tortorella Akron Win, CG, SO, 10 IP, 5 H, 11 K, HBP
SP Garret Navarra CMU 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 K, HBP
RP Mitchell Scott Kent St Save 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K
RP Christian Mitchelle CMU Win, 4.2 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 2 K
RP Sam Klein Ball State Save, 3.2 IP, H, BB, 6 K

Central Michigan handed the ball to Garrett Navarra to avoid the sweep on Sunday and he delivered. Over seven innings of work, only three batters reached base. Two runs came in when Bowling Green was able to get a lead-off runner on base and manufacture both runs. He took the pressure off of a defense that was having a tough weekend with seven strikeouts on his own.

Sammy Tortorella started Akron’s game on Tuesday against Dayton and threw a complete game shutout against Ball State on Friday. Two pitchers in the MAC come to mind where you can look at the schedule and pick out their starts based on runs against: Keegan Akin from WMU and Drey Jameson from Ball State. Both of those players are in MLB bullpens right now. Tortorella is approaching that level of domination.

Kent State’s Mitchell Scott made two appearances and picked up his third save of the season. One inherited runner scored on Friday on an error, but he was clean outside of that. Four innings pitched and seven strikeouts with a 0.50 WHIP against MAC competition is noteworthy.

Taylor Hopkins lead the MAC in wOBA for qualified hitters this week, but his three home runs weren’t enough for the Eagles to avoid the sweep. Eastern Michigan’s middle infielders are both raking this season from a position primarily focused on defense.

Ryland Zaborowski hits two more home runs to lead the MAC with 11 this season. He is still barely under 100 at-bats this season which puts his home run rate over 10%. MAC teams might want to consider walking him.

Do not walk Jeron Williams. He doesn’t walk much anyway, but he leads the MAC with 20 stolen bases and will turn the free pass into a runner on second. He’s only been caught three times this season.

Series Scores:

Date Away Score Home
3/28 Akron Zips 9-5 Dayton Flyers
3/28 So. Indiana Screaming Eagles 6-7 Ball State Cardinals
3/29 Shawnee State Bears 2-6 Akron Zips
3/31 Ball State Cardinals 0-4 Akron Zips
4/2 Ball State Cardinals 11-6 Akron Zips
4/2 Ball State Cardinals 9-1 Akron Zips
Next Opp. vs Bellarmine (Tue), at The Citadel Next Opp. vs Eastern Michigan (Tue), at Western Michigan
Date Away Score Home
3/28 Bowling Green Falcons 7-4 Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons
3/28 Central Michigan Chippewas 5-6 Michigan Wolverines
3/31 Bowling Green Falcons 12-3 Central Michigan Chippewas
4/1 Bowling Green Falcons 3-2 Central Michigan Chippewas
4/2 Bowling Green Falcons 3-4 Central Michigan Chippewas
Next Opp. at Michigan State (Wed), vs Kent State Next Opp. at Oakland (Tue), vs Concordia (Wed), at Northern Illinois
Date Away Score Home
3/28 Eastern Michigan Eagles Oakland Grizzlies
4/1 Eastern Michigan Eagles 6-7 Ohio Bobcats
4/2 Eastern Michigan Eagles 4-8 Ohio Bobcats
4/2 Eastern Michigan Eagles 4-6 Ohio Bobcats
Next Opp. at Akron (Tue), vs Miami Next Opp. vs Moorhead State (Tue), at Toledo
Date Away Score Home
3/28 Kent State Golden Flashes 3-4 Indiana Hoosiers
3/28 Youngstown State Penguins 2-7 Toledo Rockets
3/31 Toledo Rockets 7-6 Kent State Golden Flashes
4/2 Toledo Rockets 3-6 Kent State Golden Flashes
4/2 Toledo Rockets 6-7 Kent State Golden Flashes
Next Opp. at Purdue FW (Tue), vs Ohio Next Opp. at Ohio State (Tue), at Bowling Green
Date Away Score Home
3/28 Michigan State Spartans 8-6 Western Michigan Broncos
3/29 Miami RedHawks 9-3 Oakland Grizzlies
4/1 Western Michigan Broncos 6-0 Miami RedHawks
4/2 Western Michigan Broncos 5-1 Miami RedHawks
4/2 Western Michigan Broncos 1-4 Miami RedHawks
Next Opp. at Michigan (Tue), vs Akron Next Opp. vs Xavier (Tue), at Eastern Michigan
Date Away Score Home
3/28 Northern Illinois Huskies 11-15 Northwestern Wildcats
3/31 Northern Illinois Huskies 3-8 Xavier Musketeers
4/1 Northern Illinois Huskies 4-9 Xavier Musketeers
4/2 Northern Illinois Huskies 2-3 Xavier Musketeers
Next Opp. at Illinois Chicago (Tue), vs Central Michigan