The season ended for the Eastern Michigan University baseball team the same way it has for the last three seasons, with a defeat in the semifinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The Eagles’ 8-0 loss against Kent State Saturday afternoon ceased any hopes of their second MAC championship in five years.
Entering the MAC tournament, the Eagles split their first two games.
Game one resulted in a 4-2 win against Northern Illinois behind the left arm of senior Robert Wendzicki, who pitched 8 2/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on nine hits and striking out seven.
Game two resulted in a 5-4 loss to Kent State despite two home runs by freshmen Lee Longo and a two-run lead in the sixth inning.
The loss put the Eagles in a win-or-go-home rematch against Northern Illinois with the winner scheduled to play Kent State for a chance to go to the MAC championship game.
In the rematch game against NIU, the Eagles won a 12-11 thriller in 10 innings to stay alive. The two teams combined for 23 runs on 37 hits, including a six-hit, five-run ninth inning by the Eagles to send the game to extras.
The Eagles scored at least one run in each of the first five innings, including a four-hit, two-run third.
Brent Ohrman and Zack Leonard singled before Ben Magsig grounded in to a double play. Tucker Rubino walked to put runners on first and third when a wild pitch allowed Ohrman to score and Rubino to advance to second. Sam Ott singled to left field to bring in Rubino and tie the score at 4 heading in to the bottom of the third inning.
The Eagles pulled senior right-hander Corey Chaffins in the fourth inning after allowing a leadoff home run to right field and consecutive singles in the first three at-bats.
Chaffins finished just three innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits. Replacement Brian Valente fared much better, going five innings and giving up two runs on six hits.
Northern Illinois carried a 10-6 lead in to the top of the ninth inning, but EMU responded with five runs in the top of the inning to take a one-run lead.
Right-hander Kristian Calibuso came on in relief for Valente in the ninth and allowed a run off a Kevin Smith single that tied the game at 11.
In the 10th inning, the Eagles scored a run on a go-ahead double from Rubino that brought Ohrman home and gave EMU a one run lead.
Calibuso allowed a leadoff single to start the bottom of the tenth inning. A groundout and a wild pitch later, the Huskies had a runner on third with one out. Calibuso got the next two batters to pop out to end the threat and send the Eagles to the semifinal round against Kent State.
The second matchup of the MAC tournament with the Golden Flashes found the Eagles in another win-or-go-home situation and again they responded.
EMU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Ohrman singled through the left side then stole second base before Leonard singled up the middle to score Ohrman for the game’s first run. A Magsig double to right center field scored Leonard from first base in the Eagles’ next at-bat.
Eagles’ right-hander Steve Weber would hold the Golden Flashes scoreless until the fifth inning when a sacrifice fly allowed a run to score. The Eagles would also get a run from a sacrifice fly. Leonard sent the fly out to center field to score Ken Battiston and give EMU a 4-1 lead.
Great defense and great pitching kept the Kent State offense from mounting a comeback. Weber went for seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with six walks and three strikeouts. Collin Taylor pitched two innings in relief, allowing just one hit and no runs to get the save.
The Eagle win forced another rematch with Kent State later in the day, but this time EMU was sent home in a disappointing loss.
Starting Golden Flashes’ pitcher Andrew Chafin pitched the complete game shutout, giving up six hits and striking out six.
Starting Eagles pitcher Wendzicki also had a shutout going until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Golden Flash offense exploded to score all eight of its runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Kent State went on to win its third straight MAC championship 11-0 against Miami later in the day.
The Eagles finish their season 37-22, which is the most wins in a season since 1982 when they finished with 39. Leonard and Wendzicki each earned MAC All-Tournament team honors for their performances. The honor was Leonard’s third and Wendzicki’s first.