Baseball falls to Michigan, takes one against Western Michigan

Zane Miller and Zane Miller

The Falcon baseball team fell to the Michigan Wolverines 10-5 Wednesday. That was days prior to losing two of three to the Western Michigan Broncos, losing 5-1 Friday before winning 4-3 Sunday in the first game of a doubleheader and losing 4-2 in the second game.

“Until we start scoring runs on a consistent basis, it’s going to be a struggle,” Falcons head coach Danny Schmitz said. “They played hard all weekend, but we’ve just got to figure out how to score more runs.”

On Wednesday, the Falcons started out the game in front after senior first baseman Brad Croy hit an RBI single in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. However, Michigan fought back in the second inning as senior third baseman Jimmy Kerr smacked a two-run homer.

In the third, the Falcons came back with Croy getting an RBI double and senior shortstop Neil Lambert hitting an RBI sacrifice fly to retake the lead 3-2. The score remained the same until the sixth inning when Michigan sophomore shortstop Jack Blomgren grabbed a two-RBI double, followed by an RBI sacrifice fly from senior first baseman Matthew Schmidt. They also weren’t done, as later in the inning Blomgren came home on a wild pitch and sophomore center fielder Jesse Franklin hit an RBI single to take a 7-3 lead. The Falcons cut the lead in half in the seventh with Croy grabbing an RBI single and junior center fielder Jake Wilson scoring on a wild pitch.

In the bottom of the seventh, lightning in the area forced a two-hour delay as the teams waited out the weather, but when the teams resumed playing, Michigan was able to recapture the momentum as they had an RBI fielder’s choice from Schmidt and a two-RBI double courtesy of sophomore designated hitter Jordan Nwogu, which sent Michigan to a 10-5 victory.

“I thought we played a good game,” Schmitz said. “We didn’t make a couple of plays defensively that we should have made, but I thought we played right with them, if not better. We competed really well and swung the bats extremely well, but we have to be able to make big plays.”

Michigan freshman pitcher Walker Cleveland earned the win, pitching 2 ⅓ innings with two earned runs allowed on four hits and a walk, while Falcons junior reliever Damon Egnor took the loss with four earned runs allowed on four hits and no walks over one and a third innings.

On Friday against Western Michigan, the Falcons again grabbed the lead early as Lambert got a first-inning RBI single but were unable to increase the lead as Western Michigan scored in the fifth as sophomore center fielder Blake Dunn knocked in a two-RBI single for a 2-1 advantage.

The pitchers on both sides got the job done for most of the late innings, as the score remained 2-1 until the ninth inning when Western Michigan senior designated hitter Andrew Stone got an RBI single and senior right fielder Conner Henderson also grabbed an RBI single. What followed was junior shortstop Drew Devine walking with the bases loaded to bring in another run. The Falcons were unable to mount a comeback as Western Michigan won 5-1.

“We need to get the next big hit,” Schmitz said. “We’re stringing runs together, and we might even score a run like we did in the first inning, but we need the next big hit. … Western Michigan did what they needed to do, but we need to start figuring out ways where we can capitalize when we get opportunities.”

Western Michigan senior pitcher Chris Modrzynski got the win, pitching five and two-thirds innings, giving up one earned run on seven hits and a pair of walks, while Falcons sophomore pitcher Andrew Abrahamowicz took the loss, going six innings with two earned runs on six hits and three walks.

With Saturday’s scheduled game pushed to a Sunday doubleheader due to rain, the first game on Sunday began with Western Michigan third baseman Jimmy Roche getting an RBI single in the third inning to claim the lead. However, the Falcons responded in the bottom of the inning as freshman right fielder Mike Malewitz hit an RBI single of his own to tie the game up. The fourth saw freshman first baseman Adam Furnas get a solo home run to give the team their first lead of the game, but Western Michigan was able to respond in the fifth as Roche added another RBI single.

The sixth inning saw senior left fielder Nate Grys regain the lead for Western Michigan on an RBI single, a lead which they would hang onto going into the ninth inning as Western Michigan got out of an eighth inning bases loaded jam to hold the lead.

In the ninth, the Falcons started a rally, culminating with junior center fielder Jake Wilson tying the game up with an RBI single, which was promptly followed by senior pinch hitter Ty Suntken delivering the walk-off RBI single, allowing the Falcons to win it 4-3.

Falcon freshman pitcher Will MacLean picked up the win, going the final four innings with no earned runs allowed on a hit and a walk, as Western Michigan sophomore reliever Blake Dunn, who came in to pitch after playing most of the game as the center fielder, took the loss with one earned run given up on three hits and a walk.

“I’m proud of our guys, they kept battling throughout the game and found a way in the ninth inning,” Schmitz said. “(Freshman pitcher) Tyler Hays gave us a nice performance and a good start. Will MacLean came in and shut the door the rest of the way.”

The second game of the doubleheader saw the Falcons grab the lead first with a two-run shot courtesy of senior right fielder Jeff Scott in the first inning. Western Michigan cut the lead in half in the sixth with Dunn hitting a solo homer, then came through for three runs in the eighth on an RBI single by sophomore first baseman Sean O’Keefe and a two-RBI single by Grys to take the lead. The Falcons were unable to muster a comeback as Western Michigan claimed the series with the 4-2 win.

Western Michigan junior pitcher Zach Mehelich took the win as he went ⅔ of an inning with no earned runs, no hits and no walks, while Falcons sophomore reliever Jeremy Spezia took the loss, allowing two earned runs on five hits with no walks. Western Michigan junior reliever Will Mullen picked up the save.

“We had great momentum going, but unfortunately we just couldn’t keep it going,” Schmitz said. “Chase (Antle) pitched really well … but the bottom line is we’ve got to score more runs.”

The team will next play on Tuesday night on the road against the Wright State Raiders before traveling to face the Ball State Cardinals on the road on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.