KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Central Michigan isn’t ready to let its season end just yet.
Seeking to qualify for their 10th consecutive Mid-American Conference Tournament, the Chippewas (24-30, 11-15 MAC) scored five unanswered runs to erase a 3-0 deficit to earn a dramatic come-from-behind win over rival Western Michigan in 10 innings Friday, 5-3.
The Broncos (16-36, 8-18 MAC) led 3-0 through six innings before the Maroon and Gold began their come back in the top of the seventh on a RBI single by freshman catcher Dylan Goodwin that scored sophomore Pat MacKenzie.
Freshman reliever Jimmy McNamara came on in relief in the bottom of the frame and held the Broncos without a run before the Chippewas were able to tie things up in the top of the eight with one swing of the bat.
Sophomore Cody Leichman led off the inning with a single to center field and redshirt freshman Neal Jacobs sent a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left field for his sixth home run of the season to tie the game, 3-3.
After neither team was able to secure a regulation victory, the Chippewas struck in the top of the 10th on back-to-back doubles by senior Jordan Adams and Leichman to take the lead, 4-3. Redshirt freshman Ryan Heeke pinch ran for Leichman and later scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Noel Santos to extend the lead to 5-3.
McNamara stayed in the game to start the bottom of the 10th and gave up a pair of singles before the Chippewas brought on sophomore closer Matt Trowbridge. The left hander needed just four pitches to earn his ninth save of the season, striking out Caleb Canton to move into second place on the CMU single-season saves list.
Jacobs had a perfect day at the plate to lead the Chippewas, finishing 4-for-4 with two RBI, while freshman Logan Regnier and Leichman each had a pair of hits. McNamara earned his first career win for CMU, tossing 3.2 innings scoreless innings and giving up just three hits.
A victory in the series finale by the Chippewas Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., combined with a Toledo victory at Eastern Michigan would secure a trip to All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio for the start of the league tournament May 22.