MAC Tournament Central
MAC Tournament Bracket
Miami 5, Central Michigan 2
MAC Tournament - Game Twelve
WP - Fiala (7-4)
LP - Morrow (1-6)
S - Dawes (9)
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio - For a third consecutive day, Miami received a dominating pitching performance from its starter and Ryan Curl gave the RedHawks just enough offense to hold off the hard-charging Central Michigan Chippewas and advance to their first MAC Championship final since 2005.
Despite hitting just .208 entering the contest, Curl proved to be an offensive catalyst for the RedHawks all night. It started in the third inning when Curl sparked the first Miami run with a lead-off double to right field. A sacrifice bunt moved him to third with one away before Ryan Brenner brought him home for a 1-0 Miami lead.
Central Michigan had just two base knocks against Miami starter Brooks Fiala through 4.1 innings of work but it only took one swing of the bat for Nate Theunissen to even the game at 1-1 with a shot that just cleared the fence in right field, his fourth home run of the MAC Tournament and fifth of the season.
The RedHawks took the lead right back from the Chippewas in the bottom of the fifth again thanks to Curl and the bottom of the Miami order. Curl led off the inning with a smoked double to right-center and Ryan Kaup advanced him to third with his second sacrifice bunt of the night. Brenner got his second RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly to left to bring the speedy right fielder home.
Theunissen again lifted the Chippewas into a deadlock with the RedHawks in the top of the seventh after an error allowed Tom Howard to reach base safely. With one down in the inning, Theunissen hammered a Fiala pitch off the wall in left field to plate Howard and send the teams into the stretch tied at 2-2.
From there it was all Miami as pinch-runner Pat Glass scored what proved to be the game-winning run from second off a Kaup double to right. A two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth was capped by pinch-hitter Nate Bowles hitting a grounder up the middle that CMU's Eric Wrozek was able to make a diving stop on, but the ball bounded away into shallow center, scoring Kyle Weldon and Bryce Redeker for the final tallies of the night.
Miami improves to 35-24 and will play the winner of tomorrow's 12 p.m. game between Kent State and Eastern Michigan. Central Michigan extended its season with dramatic wins the last two days over Toledo and Western Michigan but completes its campaign at 31-27.
Bottom of the 3rd
Ryan Brenner singled up the middle, Ryan Curl scored from third
Top of the 5th
Nate Theunissen homered to right field
Bottom of the 5th
Brenner sacrificed to left field, Curl scored from third
Top of the 7th
Theunissen doubled off the left field wall, Tom Howard scored from second
Bottom of the 7th
Ryan Kaup doubled down the right field line, Pat Glass scored from third
Bottom of the 8th
Nate Bowles singled up the middle, Kyle Weldon scored from third, Bryce Redeker scored from second