Green and Central Michigan played a back-and-forth affair at Warren E. Steller
Field on Friday afternoon, with the Chippewas getting the last laugh with a
two-run ninth inning to defeat the Falcons 7-6. With the win, CMU improves to
21-13 on the season and 9-1 in Mid-American Conference action. BGSU is now
12-18 overall and 4-6 in the MAC.
In a pitching matchup between Bowling Green ace Mike Frank and Central Michigan ace Jordan Foley, it was the offenses that got the final say in Friday's game. The two teams combined for 22 hits—15 of them against the respective aces—in the game. Neither pitcher factored into the decision. Frank went 6.2 innings allowing seven hits and five runs (four earned) in the contest. Foley allowed eight hits in seven innings of work while allowing six runs (one earned).
Neither team scored during the first three innings, as both pitchers were feeling it early on. In the bottom of the second the Falcons had a good chance against Foley, as Brandon Howard was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. After a sacrifice bunt by Patrick Lancaster moved him into scoring position, Howard swiped third—his eighth stolen base of the season. With a runner on third and one out Logan Walker would line one at the second baseman, and the Chippewas would catch Howard too far off third for the inning-ending double play.
Central Michigan would find the scoreboard first in the top of the fourth inning, as the leadoff batter would single up the middle to begin the inning. Shortstop Brian Bien would get to the chopper up the middle, but his twisting, turning throw to first was not in time. Frank would hit the next batter with a pitch, and the following batter would flare a single to left field to load the bases with nobody out. CMU would take a 1-0 lead on their second hit batter of the inning, but Frank would strike out the next hitter for the first out of the inning.
With the bases still loaded and just one out in the inning, the Chippewas would take a 2-0 lead with a single to right field. The first run would score on the play, but Jesse Rait's throw to home was in time to retire CMU's Cody Leichman at the plate for the second out of the inning. Frank would minimize the damage, keeping the deficit at two runs with a ground out to second base to end the inning.
The Falcons would respond in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three runs to take a lead.
Lancaster would single up the middle to begin the bottom of the fifth—the Falcons only hit of the inning. Walker was hit by a pitch during the next at-bat to give BGSU two runners on the base paths with nobody out. Danny Schmitz would call for the sacrifice bunt with two runners on, and Rait would lay down a bunt towards the third base line. Foley would field, turn, and fire towards third. His throw trying to get Lancaster was wide, and everybody would advance on the error by the CMU pitcher.
With two runners on and still nobody out, Foley would get a strikeout of Bien. But, the pitch was wild, allowing Bien to reach base safely and everybody to move up an extra base, tying the game. A double play would give Central Michigan two outs, but Rait would score on the play to give the Falcons a 3-2 advantage after five innings.
Central Michigan would commit two more errors in the bottom of the sixth, as the Falcons capitalized for two more runs and a 5-2 lead.
Catcher T.J. Losby would lead off the bottom of the sixth, knocking a pitch into the right-centerfield gap and hustling out of the box for the two-bagger. Jake Thomas, Bowling Green's designated hitter on Friday, would lay down a sacrifice bunt attempt. Foley would be unable to field it cleanly, as the Falcons had runners on the corners with nobody out. With Howard at the plate, Foley would check on Thomas at first with a pickoff throw. With Losby less than five feet off the bag at third, CMU's Leichman would fire from first to third, but his throw was well high, traveling into foul territory in left field. Losby would score on the play, and Thomas was able to advance all the way to third. A Lancaster single to right field would score Thomas from third, and the Falcons led 5-2 after six innings.
The Chippewas would tie the game in the seventh inning, as they would score three runs off Frank, helped by a Bowling Green defensive lapse. A walk and bunt single would begin the big inning for CMU. The Falcons would get the first out of the inning on a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Losby's throw to third would keep Central Michigan runners at first and second with one out. The next batter would single to right field to score a run for CMU. Jeremy Shay would cut off Rait's throw from right field, turn and fire to third, but his throw would get past Howard allowing both runners to advance and another run to score. Frank would get a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but CMU would double with two outs to tie the game and knock the BGSU ace out of the ballgame.
Bowling Green would turn to Jason Link, and he would get out of the inning to keep it tied.
The Falcons would respond in the bottom of the seventh, retaking the lead. Bien would begin the inning with a bunt single down the first base line—a ball that neither Foley (P) or Leichman (1B) had a chance at. Andrew Kubuski would follow with a bunt single in the Bermuda Triangle—between the pitcher, first baseman, and second baseman—and a late, errant throw would allow both runners to advance into scoring position on the play. Shay would ground out to short in the next at-bat, as Bien scampered home from third to give the Falcons a 6-5 lead after seven innings.
Link would work a one-two-three top of the eighth inning, but CMU reliever Jason Gamble would return the favor in the bottom of the eighth against the Bowling Green offense.
In the top of the ninth, with Link still on the mound, CMU's shortstop Morgan Oliver would line out to his counterpart Bien to begin the inning. A single and triple by Regnier brothers Nick and Logan would tie the game, and the Chippewas would take a 7-6 lead as the next two batters also singled.
With Ethan McKenney on the mound in relief of Link, the Falcons would get the second out at home. After a stolen base advanced both CMU runners into scoring position, Adam Collins would reach on an error to short. On that play, with the infield drawn in, Bien's late throw would bring Tyler Huntey home, but Shay's throw to Losby was in time for the second out. With two runners on, Nick Santos would single to left field. Kubuski's throw would come to Howard at third, and his tag was ruled to have been applied before Heeke crossed home to keep the score at 7-6.
CMU head coach Steve Jaksa would turn to closer Tim Black for the bottom of the ninth, and he would close the door for his fourth save of the season.
In the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Greg Basalyga would strike out on a high fastball to begin the inning. After a Bien single to right, he would be caught stealing for the second out of the inning. Kubuski would smack a pitch past the third baseman to keep the game alive, but Shay would fly out to medium right field to end the game.