Eastern Michigan's club baseball team played more than just a game on Tuesday, Sept. 24 as they faced off against University of Michigan in their Autism Acceptance Game.
The club sold Autism Awareness ribbons throughout the game and were able to raise over $500 to donate to the Autism Alliance of Michigan. It was a very close game until Michigan scored twice in the sixth inning, putting them up 4-0 as they won behind a no-hitter from Raj Sharma.
"Well first and foremost we wanted to do something to give back to the community. We’ve had an overwhelming amount of support for a program that’s still gaining traction, so we wanted to give back,“ said sophomore left fielder Dakota Hershberger. “One of our presidents, Logan Tkach, is apart of the Occupational Therapy program and he has close ties to the EMU special education program so we figured it’d be a great way to give those kids a night to remember. I can’t speak for everyone on the team but I’m sure they’d agree, that this kind of thing is big, we aren’t doing it for us, or any other reason than to give back."
The game was kept very close and both teams had a lot of energy on the field and in the dugout. The Wolverines make a lot of great plays defensively. Offensively, the Eagles struggled to hit the ball in the gaps.
The 2018-19 EMU club baseball team made it to the national world series and finished in third place. They finished the season with a 21-5 record and a 10-0 conference record. The Eagles were also named District II West and Regional champions. The team made their first ever appearance in the NCBA D3 World Series.
To go along with all of their accomplishments, the Eagles also broke school records with 211 runs scored and 95 runs allowed. At one point, the team won 15 consecutive games.
“We are planning on going there again this year,“ Tkach said.
Best Buddies, an organization at EMU, had a few members attend the game. Tkach and a few of the players went into the stands and to meet some of the kids.
“They loved it,” Tkach said. Eastern Michigan may not have won the game but they played for a great cause and made it a memorable time for the Best Buddies of Eastern Michigan University.
"Without the community we wouldn’t be able to do what we love. And a game like this, with people who are apart of the Special education program, they don’t always get a chance to play the game that I love. So if I can give them just a piece, or give them just a sense of being apart of this team then I’m all for it,“ Hershberger said. "Because at the end of the day, EMU is a team. Everyone apart of this university is a family and no disability should stop that."
The Eagles also defeated Wright State on Sunday, Sept. 28 to win their third conference game of the season and will host Washtenaw Community College in their next outing on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Oestrike Stadium.