MOUNT PLEASANT - Freshman Taylor Lehnert threw his first career complete game and sophomore Cody Leichman became the first player to go 5-for-5 at the plate since 2009 to lead Central Michigan to a 10-1 win over rival Eastern Michigan at Theunissen Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The victory evens the series at a game apiece between the Chippewas (18-22, 7-10 MAC) and Eagles (20-19, 9-8 MAC) with the rubber match to be played Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Lehnert gave up just one run on a controversial play at thep late in the top of the third inning, but then settled in and worked himself out of key jams when he needed in improving to 3-2 in his debut season.
After the Chippewas fell behind in the top of the third, they came right back in the bottom of the frame to even things up. Senior Tom Lally walked to lead off the inning and freshman Dylan Goodwin was hit by a pitch to put Lally in scoring position before freshman Logan Regnier laid down a bunt single to load the bases.
A sacrifice fly by sophomore Pat MacKenzie evened the game, but the Chippewas were unable to break things open at that point, stranding the bases loaded.
Leichman doubled off the bottom of the wall in right field to lead off the fourth and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Morgan Oliver before Goodwin drove in his first career run with a single to give the Chippewas a 2-1 lead.
Another single by Regnier, this time to centerfield, put two runners on and MacKenzie again came up in the clutch by driving the first pitch he saw to the right center gap for a double that to score a pair of runs for a 4-1 CMU advantage.
Lehnert sat down eight straight in the middle innings to settle in before the Chippewas broke things open in the bottom of the sixth when they sent all nine men to plate to score five runs.
Lally opened the frame with a bunt single down the third base line and after advancing to third on a passed ball came around to score on a RBI single by Regnier. MacKenzie reached on an error to extend the inning and sophomore Nick Regnier came up with an infield single on a hot shot to the third baseman, loading the bases for senior Jordan Adams.
The senior designated hitter broke into the hit column with a RBI single to right field and Leichman recorded his fourth hit of the game to plate two more runs. An errant throw by Russell bounced into the Chippewas' dugout on the play, allowing Adams to score to push CMU's lead to 9-1.
Lehnert worked around a leadoff walk and an error in the seventh for another scoreless inning before a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth set up his first career complete game.
The freshman right hander came back out for the ninth and quickly sat down pinch hitter Tony Dileo on a strikeout looking and ultimately closed the day with his fifth strikeout of the game when he got Nick Rotola to swing through strike three to close the game.
Leichman capped his day with a RBI single in the eighth, becoming the first player with five hits in a game since Andrew Thomas (5-for-6) and Dale Cornstubble (5-for-5) each accomplished the feat at Western Michigan on May 8, 2009.
In addition to Leichman's 5-for-5 day, Logan Regnier went 4-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and MacKenzie went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Goodwin had his first career multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with a RBI.
Brian Valente suffered the loss for the Eagles, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks over 3.2 innings.