MOUNT PLEASANT - Central Michigan saw its chances for a third-straight Mid-American Conference West Division championship come to an end Friday, falling to rival Western Michigan, 5-3.
The Chippewas (29-27, 17-10 MAC) needed a win after Toledo defeated Eastern Michigan, 5-2, earlier in the day, but with the loss the Rockets were able to clinch the West Division and the No. 2 seed in next week's MAC Tournament in Avon, Ohio.
CMU jumped out to an early lead, 3-1, through two innings with a run in the bottom of the first on a Broncos (25-26, 14-11 MAC) error and back-to-back two-out RBI singles by senior Tyler Hall and junior Jordan Dean in the bottom of the second.
The Broncos were able to cut the deficit in half with an unearned run in the top of the fourth and took the lead with two runs in the sixth. Andrew Sohn led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch prompting the Chippewas to make a change on the mound and bring in senior Ryan Longstreth. Vonnie Booker laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to the tie the game, 3-3, before Jack Scanlon doubled down the left field line to score Dan Shutes and take the lead, 4-3.
Zach Thoma ripped another double for the Broncos in the eighth to scoring Shutes for the second time and extend the Broncos' lead to 5-3.
The Chippewas had a scoring chance in the bottom of the eighth with runners on first and second after junior Reid Rooney was hit by a pitch and senior Eric Wrozek walked, but redshirt freshman Pat MacKenzie flied out to center to end the threat.
Saturday's rubber match will prove to be a crucial one with MAC Tournament seeding still on the line. The Chippewas will turn to junior Dietrich Enns on the mound looking to secure the No. 3 seed with a win. First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m.