Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – This time, it was Central Michigan’s turn to miss opportunities, play give-away, and get frustrated.
The Chippewas committed five errors and failed to take advantage early against Western starter Kyle Mallwitz in falling to the Broncos, 11-2, on Sunday at Theunissen Stadium.
The loss ended CMU’s perfect start to the Mid-American Conference season. CMU is 19-16, 8-1 MAC and leads the West Division by one game over Eastern Michigan, which completed a weekend sweep of Ohio with a 12-11 win on Sunday at Ohio. Western is 14-17, 4-8.
The Chippewas won Friday’s series opener with the Broncos and captured Saturday’s to wrap up the series before a pitch was thrown on Sunday. They are 3-0 in conference series and go to Bowling Green for three next weekend.
“We’ll move on, we’ll make some adjustments, we’ll chat about it a little bit,” CMU coach Steve Jaksa said. “The guys have been resilient that way. They still have to understand what the rivalry is; there’s some who are new to it. It’s never going to change. It’s Sunday, and whether you beat them twice or not, you have to understand what it’s going to take to beat them a third time and that’s not going to be easy because they’re never going to quit. And they probably played their best game of the series today.”
Mallwitz (5-2) allowed just one hit through six innings and the Broncos built an 8-0 lead before the Chippewas broke through with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Mallwitz, a senior right-hander, went 7 2/3 innings and allowed four hits. He walked five and struck out six. The Chippewas used a walk and two hit batsmen to load the bases in the second inning when Mallwitz induced an inning-ending double play.
CMU stranded two more in the third inning. That was the last time the Chippewas threated until the eighth, when they again left the bases loaded. And by then, the Broncos held a nine-run lead.
“Western played really well,” Jaksa said. “They took it to us a little bit. We made a couple mistakes early and they took advantage of it and got a little momentum. Their pitcher got better as the game went on and we couldn’t answer.”
Pat Leatherman (4-4) took the loss, ending his streak of consecutive wins at three. The sophomore right-hander surrendered six runs on six hits, walked three and struck out five.
Just two of the runs charged to Leatherman were earned.
Tyler Frank, the Broncos’ No. 9 hitter, hit a two-out, two-run homer in the second to stake Western to a 2-0 lead. The Broncos added another run in the third and three in the fifth. CMU committed a combined three errors in those two innings and none of the four runs was earned.
“That kind of tells the story,” Jaksa said. “We had to get him out of there after five innings because of his pitch count being so high because we couldn’t make a play behind him.”
The five errors tied CMU’s season high, which it committed less than a week ago in a 6-4 nonconference loss at home to Madonna.