MOUNT PLEASANT — Central Michigan was unable to hold on to a lead late and Northern Illinois scored four runs in the final two innings Sunday to claim the contest and the series at Theunissen Stadium, 5-3.
Senior left hander Rick Dodridge threw seven strong innings, giving up just seven hits and one run while striking out seven to help the Chippewas (12-18, 3-6 MAC) claim a 3-1 lead.
The Chippewas trailed 1-0 through five but were able to take the lead with a key two-out triple by sophomore Pat MacKenzie. Redshirt freshman Neal Jacobs led the inning off with a bloop single and advanced to second on a single by sophomore Joe Houlihan. After a strikeout of pinch-hitter Zack Fields, MacKenzie stepped to the plate and roped a 2-0 pitch to the centerfield wall for his third triple of the season and a 2-1 CMU lead.
The Huskies nearly tied the game in the top of the seventh on a pair of singles, but after Danny Seiton singled and stole second, he was thrown out at the plate by sophomore Nick Regnier from center field following Jamison Wells' single up the middle.
Jacobs again sparked a score in the bottom of the frame when he singled with two outs and came all the way around to score on a double to centerfield by sophomore Cody Leichman to give the Chippewas a 3-1 advantage.
Sophomore closer Matt Trowbridge came on in the top of the eighth looking for his second six-out save of the weekend and appeared to be well on his way when he struck out the first two batters he faced, but the Huskies had other plans.
Jeff Zimmerman started the comeback with a deep double in the gap in right center and Landon Tenhagen hit his first home run of the season in the next at bat in part to 20 mile per hour winds to left field to tie the game, 3-3.
The Chippewas loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth on a walk to sophomore Pat MacKenzie and intentional walks to Nick and Logan Regnier, but sophomore Alec Ornelas grounded out to the pitcher to end the threat.
The Huskies won the game in the top of the ninth when Nate Ruzich was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Connor Duckhorn in which the batter reached on an error by Houlihan. Trowbridge then walked two straight, allowing the leading run to cross the plate, and again walked a batter with the bases loaded for the final 5-3 tally.
Jacobs was able to reach to start the bottom of the ninth to give the Chippewas a ray of hope, but Leichman struck out swinging and a pair of fielder's choices ended the contest.
Trowbridge suffered the loss for the Chippewas in falling to 1-3 on the season, while Jacobs went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored to lead the offense.
CMU is back in action Wednesday afternoon when it plays host to Oakland at Theunissen Stadium. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m.