MOUNT PLEASANT -- In a showdown between two of the Mid-American Conference's starting pitchers, Central Michigan rallied off the bullpen of Kent State for a walkoff win in the opening game of a three-game series on Friday at Theunissen Stadium.
Trent Howard fanned the first nine batters he faced and the Chippewas (17-17, 6-4 MAC) picked up their sixth-consecutive victory, snapping the Golden Flashes' (22-11, 8-2 MAC) 11-game winning streak.
Facing KSU's Andrew Chafin, who boasted the nation's best ERA among starting pitchers at 0.72, CMU rallied for a run in the eighth off the left-hander on a wind-blown two-out triple by Sam Russell and an RBI double by pinch hitter Tom Howard to tie the game at one.
In the ninth, Tyler Hall led off with a double into the gap in right and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Brendan Emmett . After a two-out intentional walk was issued to Matt Faiman , Jordan Dean laced a 1-1 pitch into shallow center to plate the winning run and give the Chippewas six wins in their last seven league games.
Hall had two of CMU's six hits and Ben Klafczynski had two of KSU's six safeties.
Howard finished with seven innings of work, giving up a run on four hits and a walk while fanning 11. He retired the first 12 batters he faced before Klafczynski's leadoff single in the fifth, and stranded the bases loaded in the seventh.
Chafin allowed a run on four hits and struck out 13. Justin Gill (2-1) took the loss in relief, giving up a run on two hits and an intentional walk in 2/3 of a frame.
Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 2:05 p.m.