MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Central Michigan was unable to hold on to a five-run lead as Akron came back to tie the game in the top of the ninth before earning a 8-7 victory in 11 innings Friday evening at Theunissen Stadium.
The Zips’ (14-32, 9-12 MAC) moved a half game ahead of the Chippewas (22-26, 9-13 MAC) for the eighth spot in the Mid-American Conference standings with just five conference games remaining in the regular season before the league tournament at All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio May 22-25.
CMU and Akron will resume the three-game series Saturday afternoon at 2:05 p.m.
After a hour and 10 minute rain delay, the Chippewas came out swinging to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a RBI single by sophomore Cody Leichman and a wild pitch that allowed senior Jordan Adams to score.
The hot hitting continued in the bottom of the second when sophomore Joe Houlihan led off the frame with a single and scored on a single by senior Tom Lally. Adams drove in freshman Logan Regnier later in the frame with a sacrifice fly to right field before Leichman came up with a double down the left field line that plated Lally and sophomore Nick Regnier for a 6-1 CMU lead.
The Zips were able to get a run back in the top of the third, but Logan Regnier quickly put CMU back up by five runs in the bottom of the fourth.
The freshman right fielder led off the inning and smoked the first pitch he saw over the fence in right field for his first career home run and a 7-2 CMU advantage.
Unfortunately, that is where the Chippewas’ offense stopped and the Zips began their comeback as they scored single runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings to pull within a pair of runs, 7-5.
Sophomore closer Matt Trowbridge came on with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and was able to get pinch hitter Anthony Bova to strike out looking but could not complete the save in the ninth.
The Zips started the top of the ninth with back-to-back doubles by Matt Rembielak and Devan Ahart to pull within a run, 7-6. After a walk to Matt LaRocca, Ahart appeared to be thrown out at third on a stolen base attempt, but he was able to slide under the tag as both runners moved up a base. Ahart scored on a wild pitch to tie the game, 7-7.
The Chippewas had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the tenth when sophomore Pat MacKenzie walked to lead off the inning and moved into scoring position on a Houlihan sacrifice bunt. Sophomore Tyler Huntey moved him another 90 feet on a ground out and after an intentional walk to Logan Regnier, Lally nearly bunted for a base hit but was thrown out on a close play at first to end the threat.
Akron was able to plate the winning run off sophomore Dylan Rheault in the top of the 11th on a sacrifice fly by Brad Stewart that scored Jared Turocy for the 8-7 final.