Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
EVANSTON, Ill. – No place like home, and no place like Central Michigan for Steve Jaksa.
Freshman Tyler Hankins tossed a complete game for his first collegiate win on Saturday as the Central Michigan baseball team defeated Northwestern, 5-1, in the second game of a nonconference doubleheader at the Wildcats’ Miller Park.
The win was No. 454 for Steve Jaksa, moving him into second place in coaching victories at CMU.
Hankins, a left-hander who hails from suburban-Chicago’s Bartlett, allowed eight hits and walked one as CMU improved to 7-11.
He stranded two base runners in the seventh inning, set the Wildcats down in order in the eighth, and got a game-ending strikeout, his fourth whiff of the game, with two runners on in the ninth.
“A continuum of what he did the last time out,” Jaksa said of Hankins, who allowed three runs in 7 1/3 innings in his last start, a non-decision last Sunday at Central Florida. “He pitched really, really well. The fastball command, the ability to throw the changeup.
“He competes and keeps them off balance and that’s what makes you a pitcher. We played good defense, got some timely hits.”
The Wildcats won the opener, 5-1. The teams will complete their four-game series on Sunday at 2 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Michael Brettell will start for CMU (7-11).
Daniel Jipping had two hits to lead CMU at the plate. His first was home run, his team-high third of the season, to left field that tied the game, 1-1, in the fourth inning. His RBI single in the sixth broke the tie and put the Chippewas in front for good.
Robert Greenman added a two-run double in the sixth to extend CMU’s lead to 4-1, and Grant Frazer had an RBI single in the seventh for the final margin. Frazer, a freshman, finished with two of CMU’s seven hits.
Northwestern (5-11) collected nine hits off three Chippewa pitchers in taking the opener, 5-1.
Sophomore Pat Leatherman (1-3) started for CMU and took the loss. He surrendered five runs, walked two, and struck out three over 5 1/3 innings. Jake Raether and Braxton Markle pitched in relief for the Chippewas. They combined to allow one hit, walk two, and strike out three
Jason Sullivan doubled, and Zach Heeke, Daniel Robinson and Alex Borglin each singled to lead the Chippewas.
Northwestern starter Josh Davis (1-0) went six shutout innings, allowing three hits, walking one, and striking out one. Tommy Bordignon worked the final three frames for the save. He gave up one run on one hit, walked one, and struck out three.
Jaksa, who is in his 15th year as the Chippewas’ coach and 19th with the program, is a Chippewa through and through. He earned two letters as a pitcher at CMU in the late 1970’s, finishing his career 12-4 with four saves and a 2.76 earned run average.
Saturday’s win moved him past Dave Keilitz, who led CMU to 453 victories from 1971-84. He trails only Dean Kreiner, whose Chippewa teams won 516 games from 1985-98.
“I played for both Dean and Dave and to be mentioned in the same sentence as them is an honor in itself for me,” Jaksa said. “When I started this journey as an assistant coach -- and now to have had the opportunity as a head coach to get to have that many wins just is something I couldn’t really have imagined.
“It’s always about the team, it’s never going to be about me. My name just happens to be on the top of the docket. I’m proud to represent the program and all the Chippewas that I’ve been able to coach and represent all these years.
“I truly enjoy every minute of being the baseball coach at Central Michigan and working with the young men every day. And the number of the alumni who come back and watch us play means a lot to me. It’s that closeness that we’ve developed in the program, with current players, past players.”