Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jaksa, CMU excited for chance to play at Comerica Park

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || February 08, 2011

Steve Jaksa likes being first.

Two years ago, the Central Michigan baseball team was part of Midnight Madness and the first college baseball game of the 2009 season against Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Chippewas finished first in the Mid-American Conference last season with a 20-7 regular season mark.

And this year, the team will be part of the first collegiate game played at Detroit’s Comerica Park, when they renew their rivalry with Michigan State on April 20.

“I always like being first,” head coach Jaksa said on Tuesday.

“This is a unique thing and it’s a special thing,” he continued. “We have a really good alumni base in that part of the state and sometimes they don’t always get a chance to come up here. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Jaksa, along with CMU Athletics Director Dave Heeke and 2009 MAC Freshman of the Year Dietrich Enns, will be on hand at Comerica Park today for the game’s official announcement at a 10:30 a.m. news conference.

Representing the Spartans will be head coach Jake Boss and senior first baseman Jeff Holm.

“I’m really pumped,” Enns, a sophomore left-handed pitcher, said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play in a major league park. We all watched those games growing up and it’s going to be a great honor.”

In his rookie campaign, Enns compiled a spotless 7-0 record out of the bullpen, appearing in 20 games while recording a 2.12 ERA.

The April 20 meeting will be the second time he competes on a major league diamond. In high school, the Frankfort, Ill., native pitched in a showcase game at historic Wrigley Field in Chicago, home of the Chicago Cubs.

“It was sweet,” he said. “But I’m sure this will be just as sweet.”

The Chippewas were informed of the announcement last week during a team meeting with Jaksa and Heeke.

“I think the whole team is pretty excited for this,” said sophomore infielder Jordan Dean. “We always play Michigan State tough and to play them on a professional field, everyone is really antsy for that.”

CMU leads the all-time series against MSU, 62-46, dating back to 1911.

Jaksa said the idea was born after the annual game between the two teams at Dow Diamond in Midland fell through because of a scheduling conflict.

After contacting the Spartans, Jaksa reached out to former Chippewas player and current Detroit Tigers suite sales manager Dan Griesbaum to get the ball rolling.

“I told him what our situation was and what we’d like to do,” Jaksa said. “He explored it, got back to me and at the end of the day, we came up with an agreement.”

Jaksa said the idea presented itself in late December and was finalized about 10 days ago.

“I think we have an opportunity to get a nice crowd there,” he said. “I really believe it’s a win-win situation. It’s a win for college baseball and I think the Tigers look at it as win for them.”

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