Sunday, March 27, 2011

CMU baseball unable to capitalize on opportunities in series at Miami

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || March 27, 2011

They didn’t show up in the box score, but they could have gone either way.

Two late-inning defensive plays, a line drive up the middle an inch away or a deep fly ball a foot away. But in a conference-opening series sweep by Miami University, they were the biggest plays.

“The bottom line is that we had two opportunities to win,” said Central Michigan baseball head coach Steve Jaksa.

In the bottom of the ninth inning of Friday night’s series opener at McKie Field in Oxford, Ohio, with the score tied at one, runners on first and second and the Chippewas at bat, Jaksa decided to pinch-hit senior infielder Tom Howard.

The move came just after RedHawks starter Mac Thoreson was pulled in favor of left-handed reliever Sam Dawe and after Thoreson previously stymied the CMU offense to one run on seven hits.

Howard lined a pitch up the middle, but off of Dawes glove and to RedHawks second baseman Jon Edgington, who turned an inning-ending double play.

“Unfortunately that ball didn’t go through,” Jaksa said.

The ball didn’t go through and, two innings later, the ball went over the head of sophomore second baseman Jordan Dean as a bloop single off the bat of Miami first baseman Kyle Weldon scored the winning run in the 2-1 extra-innings victory.

“It would have been nice to have gotten a little momentum in that first game,” Jaksa said.

Junior starting pitcher Trent Howard pitched nine innings, allowing one run on five hits and struck out 13. In relief, sophomore Dietrich Enns walked three and was tabbed with the first loss of his collegiate career.

In the second game, Miami scored three runs in the top of the ninth on back-to-back errors by senior shortstop Robbie Harman for a 3-0 victory.

An inning earlier, senior first baseman Brendan Emmett flied out to deep center field with two runners on before RedHawks center fielder Ryan Brenner made a running one-handed catch to end the inning.

“Six inches to a foot of a difference,” Jaksa said, “and that one falls in.”

Junior reliever Harvey Martin picked up the loss for CMU (9-15, 0-3 Mid-American Conference), after taking over for starting pitcher Zach Cooper in the eighth inning.

Cooper did not allow a run in seven-plus innings pitched. He struck out eight.

In the series finale, part of a Saturday doubleheader scheduled because of Sunday storms in the area, the RedHawks (12-11, 3-0 MAC) tagged starting pitcher Jake Sabol for seven runs on seven hits in the first three innings and cruised to a 9-4 win.

Tom Howard drove in two runs and hits leader Tyler Hall had two hits.

“Results aside, I think we pitched very well,” Jaksa said. “I think we played our first two games very well. But we didn’t convert hits well enough.”

The Chippewas return to action with back-to-back midweek games at Notre Dame and Michigan State beginning on Tuesday.

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