YPSILANTI, Mich. - After 14 innings and nearly five hours, Eastern Michigan out-lasted Central Michigan, 11-10, in the opening game of a three-game Mid-American Conference baseball series at Oestrike Stadium Thursday night.
The win gives Eastern Michigan (34-18 overall, 16-9 MAC) the inside track to the MAC West Division title and the No. 2 seed in next week's MAC Tournament. The Eagles must win just one of the series' final two games, while CMU (27-25, 15-9 MAC) must take both of the remaining games to claim its second straight division title.
Thursday's game was an epic. Twelve different pitchers saw action, the teams combined for 33 hits, eight errors and five extra-inning runs, and both offenses posted a five-run inning before the game went to extras.
Brent Ohrman's three-run home run keyed a five-run fifth inning for the Eagles, and the hosts still led 6-3 when CMU came to bat in the top of the eighth. WIlliam Arnold led off the inning with a double that chased EMU starter Robert Wendzicki. Back-to-back walks to Tom Howard and Jordan Dean loaded the bases and forced EMU to again go to the bullpen.
Nate Theunissen welcomed reliever Kristian Calibuso with a pinch-hit single that scored Arnold and Howard. Sam Russell then reached on an error that allowed Dean to score, and Russell and Theunissen came home on a single by Matt Faiman.
The Chippewas took their 8-6 lead to the bottom of the ninth. Ohrman doubled to open the inning, then moved to third when Zack Leonard reached on an error. Two batters later, Tucker Rubino worked the count full before doubling home Ohrman and Leonard with the tying runs.
Sam Ott then drew a walk after pushing the count full, but Rubino was thrown out at third on the front end of a double steal. Ott was stranded at second when Daniel Russell flew out to end the inning.
Eastern Michigan moved the potential winning run to third in the bottom of the 10th, but Leonard, Eastern Michigan's all-time hits leader, struck out looking to end the inning.
After a scoreless 11th inning, the Chippewas manufactured a go-ahead run in the 12th to take a 9-8 lead. Theunissen led off the inning with a four-pitch walk, and Sam Russell sacrificed him to second base. Theunissen moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Robbie Harman's groundout with one out.
Eastern Michigan responded in the bottom half. Daniel Russell led off with a single, then moved to third base when Dietrich Enns' pickoff attempt sailed wide of first base. Kyle Klein singled home Russell with the game-tying run, but Enns retired the next three hitters to get out of the inning.
CMU pushed across a single run in the top of the 13th. Brendan Emmett led off with a single, then was sacrificed to second by Arnold and to third by Rod Helsen. Jordan Dean drove home Emmett with a base hit to center.
Again Eastern Michigan answered the Chippewas' tally. With two outs and Ben Magsig on first, Ott singled to left, but Sam Russell mishandled the ball and Magsig scored from first to send the game to the 14th inning.
CMU went down in order in the top of the 14th, and the Chippewas' sixth pitcher of the night, Ryan Longstreth, took the mound to open the bottom of the inning. He retired Daniel Russell before surrendering back-to-back doubles to Wally Gerbus and Kyle Peterson, with Peterson's driving home Gerbus with the game-winning run.
Longstreth took the loss, falling to 1-5. CMU starter Trent Howard lasted just five innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits. Dietrich Enns worked 5-1/3 innings in relief after coming on in the eighth; he surrendered four runs (one earned) on six hits.
Brian Valente worked the final 1-1/3 innings for EMU to improve to 4-0 on the season.
Arnold was 3-for-7 with a double to lead the Chippews' 14-hit attack, while Rubino was 4-for-7 with a double and drove in three runs for EMU.
First pitch of Friday's game is set for 3 p.m. The game will air live on 91.5 WMHW-FM, and the broadcast will be streamed live for free through CMUChippewas.com.