baseball sweeps; MAC Regular Season Title Comes Down To Final Day

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. † Central Michigan used the big inning in sweeping Toledo in a Mid-American Conference doubleheader on Friday at Theunissen Stadium.

Now, the Chippewas need one more win, and some help, to claim its third consecutive Mid-American Conference regular season baseball championship.

Adam Proctor delivered the big blow in both games as CMU swept Toledo, 8-2 and 7-6, setting the stage for a dramatic Saturday that will decide it.

CMU is 30-7 in league play, one-half game behind first-place Ball State (31-7), which swept a twinbill at Miami (Ohio) on Friday. The Chippewas and Toledo close the series on Saturday (1 pm) at Theunissen; the Cardinals and RedHawks will close their series at 11 am in Oxford, Ohio.

CMU needs a win and a Cardinal loss to win the crown and host the MAC Tournament, which is set to begin on Wednesday, May 25. If Ball State beats Miami on Saturday, it takes the title and hosts the tournament.

CMU, which is 38-16 overall, utilized sixth-inning explosions in both games on Friday, pairing the combined 13-run frames with a complete game from Garrett Navarra in the opener and a strong relief out from Andrew Taylor in the night cap.

“Our guys were tough today,” CMU coach Jordan Bischel said. “We were down in both games, down a lot the second game. At times, we’ve had some good rallies, but at times we’ve not done a great job staying the course and that was big for us. Two games in a row, to stay the course and eventually break through.”

Game 1

Navarra (8-2), a junior left-hander, went the distant in the seven-inning opener, striking out three. He allowed six hits in his longest career outing.

“I think that’s three in a row that have been good for him,” Bischel said. “We expect a lot out of Garrett; he expects a lot out of himself, and today was big for him.”

The Chippewas scored seven runs in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie.

After back-to-back walks and a bunt, Proctor delivered a huge two-run single to put CMU in front, 3-1. The Chippewas added another run on a balk, and then got another on Danny Wuestenfeld’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-1.

The Chippe was then got an RBI single from Drew Lechnir and a two-run single from Aidan Shepardson

Game 2

Down 6-1, the Chippewas scored six runs in the sixth. Shepardson drove in the first run of the inning with a single, and then Proctor smacked a three-run double to cut CMU’s deficit to 6-5.

Justin Simpson and Jakob Marsee then delivered back-to-back RBI doubles to put the Chippewas in front, 7-6.

“(Proctor) works his butt off,” Bischel said. “He’s done a really nice job for us, but he doesn’t start any games; that’s really unusual, but he doesn’t complain about it. He supports his teammates and he’s ready to go every time we put him in.”

Adam Mrakitsch (4-1) went 2 2/3 innings for the win in relief of starter Logan Buczkowski, who allowed three runs on four hits and struck out three over 4 1/3 innings. Mrakitsch gave up six hits, but surrendered just one run.

Taylor, the reigning MAC Pitcher of the Year who was a freshman All-American in 2021, went the final two frames in his first career relief appearance for his first career save.

An injury kept Taylor from starting, but he was cleared by medical staff and tested the waters and he delivered two perfect innings. He faced six hitters, striking out five.

“We didn’t want to push his pitch count too high this weekend,” Bischel said of Taylor, who could have started. “We wanted to really be safe with him and when there was an opportunity to finish a game and keep his pitch count low, we figured we’d jump on it.

“He loves to compete, and I think if there’s anything Andrew would have wanted to do differently today, he would’ve wanted to pitch more than two innings. He was lights out. We felt good bringing him in, and he did a great Job.”

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