Playing against his old team for the second time in three weeks, Eastern Michigan University Baseball coach Jay Alexander and the Eagles defeated Wayne State 6-4 Tuesday.
Patience at the plate and good base-running skills helped the Eagles by drawing a total of nine walks and four stolen bases.
Early on, the game was filled with defensive lapses from both teams as the Eagles and Warriors would combine to commit five errors in the first four innings.
In the bottom half of the first inning, junior Bo Kinder led off with a walk. Kinder then stole second base and moved over to third on a groundout by senior Aaron Crooks. Kinder then capped off the inning by scoring on a sacrifice fly by senior Todd Graves.
The Warriors (16-12) would get on the scoreboard in the top of the second in what was an error filled inning. The Eagles committed their two errors in this inning, which would result in an unearned run, leaving the score at 1-1 after two innings.
In the third inning, after a double play, EMU’s Andrew Marshall stepped up to the plate and drew a walk. He then stole second and scored on a double, down the right field line by Zack Leonard.
The Eagles (13-16) scored the last of their runs in the fourth inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Alexander opted to pinch-hit Ben Magsig for Crooks. The decision would prove to be the right one, as Magsig would hit a sharp single between first and second base, resulting in two runs.
“I was just trying to hit the ball and get it through the middle of the infield,” Magsig said.
Kinder scored the third run on a wild pitch and Magsig later scored on a throwing error.
Because of their patience at the plate, the Eagles would compile four runs on only one hit and one error in the inning.
The Warriors found a way to score three more runs by the end of the eighth inning to pull the score to 6-3, before being shut down by pitcher Tim Combs in the ninth inning.
Picking up his first win of the season was Eagles’ pitcher Steve Young. Combs also picked up his first save of the season.
“Right now, I think we are doing just enough to get wins. I want our team to take more pride in the way that we play,” Alexander said. He also believed they were giving Wayne State too many opportunities to stay in the game.
With Wayne State threatening in the top of the fifth inning, Kinder made the defensive play of the game.
After a Ryan LaPensee single and stolen base, Michael Wiseman stepped up to the plate and hit a towering shot towards the right field fence. Kinder tracked the ball and made a running catch, running him into the wall. He came back from his collision with proof he caught the ball, much to the delight of the crowd.
In the past three seasons, the Eagles have compiled a record of 36-19 at home. Their victory over Wayne State brings their home record for 2010 to 3-2.
“With us being on the road so much early in the season, I want our players to take pride in being at home,” said Alexander.
Wayne State coach Ryan Kelley, who took over for Alexander, had nothing but great things to say about the man whose job he took.
“I was able to coach with Jay in the past and he was someone who takes great pride in what he does,” he said. “After he left, I felt honored to be the one to become coach after him, but at the same time, realized that I have huge shoes to fill.”
After talking with his team and reporters, Alexander made his way over to the Wayne State players and coaches and to talk to them for a few minutes. He was talking to the entire team, but more specifically the players who are now juniors and seniors, as those are the players he coached and recruited during his tenure at Wayne State.
The Eagles will play a weekend series against MAC opponent Kent State.
Friday’s game has been changed to 3 p.m. and is sponsored by Noodles and Company, who will be giving away free items including water bottles, t-shirts, toys, coupons and free meal vouchers.