The Eastern Michigan University baseball team continued its Mid-American Conference campaign on Saturday, March 18, when the Eagles met the Western Michigan University Broncos for a three-game series to be played over two days. The series was originally set to be played in Kalamazoo, Mich, but due to weather conditions, the games were played in Bowling Green, Ky, on the campus of Western Kentucky University instead.
The Eagles (10-6, 4-2 MAC) split Saturday’s doubleheader with the Broncos (5-12, 2-4 MAC) as WMU won the first game by a score of 5-4, before EMU would win game two, 12-11, and also win game three, 14-3, as the team picked up its third consecutive series win of the 2023 season.
The Eagles’ bats were quiet in game one of the doubleheader on Saturday, and the Broncos put together a 5-0 lead over seven innings. In the eighth inning however, the EMU offense woke up when junior Cory Taylor smashed a ball to right-center field that would be good for his first career triple, and the Eagles’ second of the season. The triple would lead off the comeback push that would see four runs scored, bringing the score to 5-4 in favor of WMU heading into the ninth and that is what it would remain, as EMU failed to produce any more runs.
In the losing effort, senior pitcher Zach Gillig shined out of the bullpen in his replacement for starting pitcher, senior Thomas House. Gillig came into the game late in the fourth inning and never looked back. Pitching 5.1 innings, Gillig only allowed one run on four hits while giving up two walks and throwing a strikeout.
The Eagles began game two in familiar territory as they found themselves once again down 5-0. This time though the offense was quick to respond and EMU added four runs of their own in the third inning thanks to home runs from junior Cole Wilcox and sophomore Josh Kross, bringing the score to 5-4. WMU answered that output with another three runs to extend their lead to 9-4.
This back-and-forth trend would continue throughout the game and into the top of the ninth inning as the Eagles still trailed 11-9. That’s when senior Ryan Lux hit a three-run home run to give EMU the 12-11 lead, save the game, and ultimately the series as the Eagles were able to keep the Broncos from scoring in the bottom half of the ninth and held on to win the game.
Kross paced the Eagles’ offense with five RBIs and a home run while going two for five at the plate. Wilcox put up similar statistics hitting a home run and a double resulting in two RBIs while also going 2 for five at the plate. Finally, Lux had his best outing as an Eagle going two for four at the plate and producing the game-winning three-run home run.
Senior Pitcher Tyler Helgson closed the game out for EMU and got the win from out of the bullpen as he threw 2.1 shutout innings while giving up two hits and two walks.
After two innings played in game three, the score was 2-1 in favor of the Eagles and thanks to seven runs in the third inning, EMU was able to blow the game wide open and coast to a 14-3 series-clinching win on Sunday.
Graduate student Matt Kirk was responsible for leading the Eagles’ offense on Sunday after having a relatively quiet doubleheader on Saturday. Kirk went three for five at the plate and produced two doubles and three RBIs. Senior Taylor Hopkins also had a notable performance at the plate as he was also responsible for three RBIs as well as a triple. Cory Taylor got in on the fun as well and hit his fourth home run of the season and tied Kirk for most on the team thus far in 2023.
On the mound, it was senior Luke Russo leading the effort with eight strikeouts and picking up his third win of the season. In five innings pitched Russo gave up three earned runs on four hits while allowing two walks and retiring eight Broncos from the batter’s box.
Up next, the Eagles will take a break from their conference schedule to take on the Butler University Bulldogs in a stand-alone weekday game on Tuesday, Mar 21 at 4 p.m. in Indianapolis, Ind.
For more information on the Eastern Michigan baseball team, you can listen to "TheBlockE Podcast" weekly for updates on all Eastern Michigan University Athletics.