All nine batters for the Eastern Michigan University baseball team (4-9) scored in the fourth inning, which propelled the Eagles to a 10-4 victory over the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (4-6) at Marge Schott Stadium Friday night.
Redshirt junior Sam Ott (2-4) was a key contributor for the Eagles, driving in two runs to bring his team leading RBI total to 10.
“Anytime you are hitting in that spot in the order, you have to be a leader,” Ott said. “Hitting in that spot is important; you’re always looking to drive in runs and produce.”
Leadoff man Dan Russell added two RBIs of his own and catcher Adam Sonabend turned in two runs for the Eagles. Eight of the 10 hitters who appeared for Eastern had hits in the game.
EMU pitcher Neil Butara got his second straight win, throwing five innings, giving up four runs on four hits and striking out four.
“He had total command of his fastball today,” EMU coach Jay Alexander said. “I thought he left the ball up a little too much, but he battled and got them to start chasing his off-speed stuff thanks to his fastball.”
Walks hurt the Eagles in the bottom of the first, as Butara walked the leadoff and third hitters. Then, freshman first baseman Ian Happ hit a one-out RBI single to give the Bearcats the early 1-0 lead. A groundout later in the inning would push the lead to 2-0.
During the second inning, Sonabend got the Eagles on the board with his first home run of the season.
“Coach Jay and I made a little adjustment before the game with my hands and I was able to see the pitch well and drive it,” Sonabend said.
After a quiet third inning, Eastern exploded in the top of the fourth.
Ott got it going with an RBI double, scoring Dae Bowden, which tied the game at two. Following a Lee Longo single and a Sonabend walk, the Eagles had the bases loaded and no outs. Then, first baseman Jamie Simpson, shortstop John Rubino and third baseman Mitchell McGeein each drove in runs to give the Eagles a 6-2 lead.
Nick Ritola singled to load the bases with zero outs for the second time in the inning and centerfielder Dan Russell doubled in two more runs before Cincinnati was able to record the first out of the inning.
Ott singled, scoring Ritola, for his second RBI in the inning and, when Longo hit a sacrifice fly to left field, bringing home Russell, all nine players in Eastern’s starting lineup had scored a run that inning. The top half of the fourth finally ended with Eastern leading 10-2 after they tagged Cincinnati for nine runs on eight hits.
“We took some good swings and our good approach,” Alexander said. “Hitting is contagious and fortunate for us, they made some mistakes and we kept hitting.”
The Bearcats tried to claw their way back into it in the bottom of the fourth when freshman Taylor Schmidt tripled in a run and later scored on a Colin Hawk sacrifice fly to make it 10-4. But Butara locked in and got out of that inning and the fifth without surrendering another hit.
EMU freshman Devon Bronson replaced Butara in the sixth inning and threw three complete innings without giving up a run. He gave up four hits and struck out two. Senior Taylor Dimmerling came on in the ninth and threw a perfect inning to seal the win for Eastern.
The Eagles will travel to Morehead, Ky., to face Morehead State University in a two-game series March 12-13. They will then return to Ypsilanti, for the first time this season, to take on Northern Kentucky and Butler universities in the Oestrike Classic on March 15-17.
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