The Chippewas must win Saturday’s series finale at Ball State and Western Michigan must beat Eastern Michigan in Kalamazoo on Saturday for CMU to win the MAC regular season title. The conference’s regular season champ hosts the six-team MAC Tournament next week.
CMU (35-18 overall, 21-5 MAC) rallied from a 2-0 first-inning deficit Friday, and Dan Taylor worked six innings to improve to 7-1 on the season. He allowed one earned run on three hits before giving way to Jason Brown, who shut out the Cardinals (19-34, 7-19 MAC) on one hit over the final three innings to earn his second save.
Ball State scored its two runs in the top of the first. Eric Earnhart doubled home Tyler Rogers with one out and scored from third when Nate Fields hit into a fielder’s choice.
With the bases loaded and one out, Richie Fralick fired a wild pitch that allowed Eric Cannon, pinch-running for James Teas, to score from third. Ben Humphrey walked to reload the bases, and Sean Hoorelbeke lofted a sacrifice fly to center that plated Cody Allen with the go-ahead run.
The Chippewas added two more runs in the sixth. The first three hitters reached against Ball State reliever Aaron Hammons, and Billy Anderson singled back up the middle with one out to score Jeff Helps with an unearned run. Tyler Stovall then lifted a foul ball near the CMU dugout along the first-base line that was caught by BSU first baseman Matt Stoeklen, but the Cardinals left home plate uncovered and Noah Lankford tagged up and scored from third. His run stretched the CMU lead to 5-2.
CMU tacked on a trio of insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Stovall led off the inning with a double and scored on a single by Humphrey. An error after the hit allowed Humphrey to advance to second, and he scored the Chippewas’ seventh run on a single by Hoorelbeke. Bryan Mitzel’s single to right moved Hoorelbeke to third, and he plated CMU’s final run when Helps hit into a fielder’s choice.
Allen, Anderson and Mitzel all finished with two hits for the Chippewas. Anderson extended his hitting streak to 15 games; he is 12-for-16 at the plate in CMU’s last four games.
First pitch of Saturday’s regular season finale is set for 1 p.m. The game can be heard locally in mid-Michigan on WMMI-AM 830 or through the CMU Sports Zone on cmuchippewas.com.