CMU Holds Off Northern Illinois, 8-4

Updated 5/18/2000
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    KENT, Ohio (May 18, 2000) -- Second-seeded Central Michigan University scored five runs in the top of the third inning and held on for an 8-4 victory over sixth-seeded Northern Illinois University in the 2000 Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament Thursday at Gene Michael Field. The loss eliminated NIU from the tournament and moved the Chippewas into Friday's third round against an opponent to be determined.

    With Northern Illinois leading 4-3, CMU's Tim Groves doubled in the top of the third to tie the game and Shaun Gragg then homered over the left center field fence to put Central Michigan on top 6-4. After an error by NIU second baseman Joel Vanden Berg allowed Tim Bullinger to reach, Matt Crowley pounded a two-run home run of his own to give the Chippewas the four-run lead.

    The Chippewas jumped on top early, scoring a run in the first inning when Crowley singled and then moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt by NIU hurler Brad Gavalek (6-9). Crowley then came home on a Jake Sanborn sacrifice fly. But the Huskies came right back to take the lead on a two-run home run to left center by Pat Kerrigan in the bottom of the inning.

    In the top of the second, Central Michigan loaded the bases with no outs but could score only two runs. Bullinger's single drove in the first and Gavalek then walked Crowley on four pitches to force home Gragg. A diving snag by NIU third baseman Kyle Kimme for the first out prevented the Chippewas from doing further damage.

    NIU plated two more in the bottom of the second on a two-out single to shallow center field by Bilal Omar. The inning had been extended when, with two outs, Groves threw wild to second base on a force-out attempt.

    After a rocky start, Central starter Mike Fawcett (8-2) settled in and shut out the Huskies in the third and fourth innings before giving way to Pete Nemeth, who pitched three scoreless innings for his second save of the season.

    "It was a great offensive display," said CMU head coach Judd Folske. "We got out of the box early and then sat on it. I don't know whether it's because we lose our focus but we can't let them mirror us and come back."

    "Early in the game both teams were trading punches," NIU head coach Dave Schrage said. "But then they had that big inning and Fawcett kept the momentum on their side."