The 55-game schedule wrapped up for Eastern Michigan University baseball last week when the Eagles were swept by Kent State at home. EMU finished with a record of 11-43-1 and 6-21 in conference, which put it at ninth place out of 10 teams in the MAC. There were some young and bright players on the roster, though, who were producing more and more as the season went on.
Zachary Owings earned second team All-MAC and defensive All-MAC honors for the season. The junior third baseman led EMU with a .345 batting average and 76 hits, which were ninth and fourth in the MAC, respectively. He also had team highs in slugging percentage, doubles, and runs batted in. Pitching was the area where the team had struggles, ending up last in ERA at 7.55 and giving up the most hits and home runs. Scott Granzotto and Justin Meis won three games each.
“It was a really encouraging freshman year for him (Justin Meis)," said head coach Eric Roof. "There have been some ups and downs but he has a really bright future. He has a fastball, slider and change and he’s done a great job for us. We’re really excited about what he’s done for us this year and what he will do for the remainder of his career here.”
Granzotto had the lowest ERA at 3.88 among the starting pitchers, while Meis had the most innings pitched at 58. Both had standout wins in the series against Bowling Green in early April. Granzotto won the first matchup in a complete game with eight strikeouts. Meis took the third game to seven innings and did not allow a run. The bullpen finished that last game out for the Eagles' lone shutout victory. Other standouts were Jeff Timko, Jared Kauffman and Taylor Hopkins.
"Nick Jones, in the middle of our order, had a lot of RBIs. Even a freshman like Taylor Hopkins, who has had a really good year," Roof said. "Timko did a really good job with pitch recognition and we want to make sure he’s putting balls in play because his batting average is so high."
Redshirt sophomore Timko hit five home runs, .292 from the plate and a .451 slugging percentage. He also hit five triples to match Owings' same total which was top 10 in the conference.Hopkins and Kauffman both started under 45 games, and were seventh and eighth on the team in at bats. They made their playing time count, however, in the batter's box. Kauffman hit .294 against MAC opponents and Hopkins hit .271. Hopkins also had two home runs for the season.
Non-conference games started the 2019 season for EMU. Early season wins came against Notre Dame in the Alamo Irish Classic and one against Abilene Christian in Texas. The team also came away with wins against Dayton, Northern Ohio and Concordia of Ann Arbor, and a sweep over Toledo once conference play got underway.
"Toledo, I thought it was just a really really good series all around,“ Roof said. "It was offensively and defensively."
Overall, MAC play was where the Eagles struggled to string together victories. They took on tough teams in Central Michigan and Kent State to end off the regular season, and were swept in both. Central Michigan ended the season on a 16-game win streak. The Eagles celebrated five seniors in their final game of the year against Kent State.
The seniors were Cameron Cruz, John Rensel Jr., Jackson Shaver, Mitchell Sparks, and Alex Wolanski. Each were honored before the final home game, alongside senior manager Travis Waker, and Director of Baseball Operations Brendan Cach. EMU will return offensive talent like Owings and Timko. Roof and his staff will look to improve the pitching staff from his second year to third, and the Eagles will have the chance to win ball games more consistently.