LAS VEGAS -- Redshirt freshmen Brendan Emmett and Jeff Digati made splashes in their collegiate debus, but a late charge by the Central Michigan University baseball team fell short as they fell 12-8 in the season opener to Southern Utah on Friday.
Emmett finished 2-for-6 with three RBI while Digati added three hits including a double. Tyler Stovall added a pair of hits and two RBI.
Keli'l Zablan led the way for the Thunderbirds with a 2-for-4 effort and 4 RBI.
Chris Kupillas (0-1) struggled in his 2008 debut, hitting the first two batters he faced and giving up six runs on six hits and a walk over 3.2 innings. He struck out three.
The Thunderbirds scored the game's first seven runs before Stovall drove in CMU's first run. The Chippewas trailed 12-3 heading into the ninth, when they scored five straight runs to draw within four.
CMU actually out-hit SUU, 16-14, but the Chippewas stranded 12 men on base. Dustin Wittwer (1-0) started for the Thunderbirds and sprinkled five hits over five innings while striking out eight. He gave up one run (unearned) and did not walk a batter.
SUU scored a pair of runs in the first on a bases-loaded double play and an RBI single by Chester Wilson. They added four more in the fourth on a pair of bases-loaded sacrifice flies and a two-run double by Zablan.
The Chippewas broke through in the sixth as Emmett reached on an error and a single by Anderson put runners on first and second. Stovall's single up the middle drove in CMU's first run. Central would load the bases with one out, but failed to push any more across.
The Thunderbirds took an 8-1 lead on a solo shot by Nick Freitas in the bottom of the sixth, but the Chippewas came back with two more in the seventh on a two-run single to left by Emmett. CMU would strand another pair of runners in scoring position and trailed 8-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
SUU stretched its lead back to nine with four runs on four hits in the eighth including a solo shot by Joe Wright and a two-run triple by Zablan to take a 12-3 lead into the ninth.
Central got back-to-back doubles by Anderson and Stovall to start the ninth to produce a run. A groundout by Kipke produced the second run of the inning as Stovall crossed the plate and consecutive singles by Howard and Cornstubble drew CMU within six, 12-6. A single by Digati trimmed the Thunderbird lead to five and an Emmett single followed to drive in a run and produce the final margin.
Chippewas Fall in Extra Innings to UNLV