Western Michigan Holds Off Central Michigan, Defeats Chippewas 9-7

Updated 5/25/2011

MAC Tournament Central

MAC Tournament Bracket

Western Michigan 9, Central Michigan 7
MAC Tournament - Game Three
WP - Stroud (8-4)
LP - Howard (4-4)
S - Heckaman (10)

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio - With each team trading offensive haymakers throughout, No. 7 Western Michigan had just enough firepower in the end to fight off No. 2 Central Michigan by a count of 9-7 at VA Memorial Stadium. Ryan McMillin went 3-5 with a triple and home run while Jimmy Martinez was a catalyst at the top of the order for the Broncos, going 3-4. Nate Theunissen led the CMU attack, going 3-3 with two opposite-field home runs and a walk. 

Western Michigan struck quickly in the top of the first inning with a Patrick Duncan single plating lead-off man Jimmy Martinez and eventually Ryan McMillin after a botched throw from right field to third base.

That lead didn't last long as control issues for WMU starter Brian Stroud led to a bases-loaded jam with just one down in the bottom half of the first. A flyball to center from Jordan Dean brought home Brendan Emmett to make it 2-1 Broncos before a slicing blast from Nate Theunissen to left field cleared the bases and gave the Chippewas a 4-2 lead.

Central Michigan's Trent Howard sat the first two Bronco batters of the second inning down in order before allowing an innocuous two-out walk to Vinnie Booker. Western Michigan capitalized on the opportunity with Jimmy Martinez's second single of the afternoon, bringing a hustling Booker around from first and allowing Martinez to reach second. Zach Thoma then delivered a line-drive double down the third base line to bring the Broncos' leftfielder in and knot the score at 4-4 after two.

Both pitchers settled into a rhythm until the fifth when a throwing error by CMU third baseman Tyler Hall, the Chips' third of the game, gave Western Michigan an extra chance. Ryan McMillin launched a triple high off the left-centerfield wall to bring Thoma around from first then scored on a single through the middle from Patrick Duncan to put the Broncos back on top 6-4.

Central Michigan got one back in the bottom half of the fifth when a Will Arnold double to right field was just enough to score Brendan Emmett from first on a bang-bang play at the plate. Undeterred, the Booker-Martinez combo paid dividends once again as Booker led off the top of the 6th with a double then scored when Martinez laid down a bunt to the pitcher that was mishandled and thrown away, giving WMU a two-run cushion again at 7-5.

CMU drew closer yet again in the bottom of the seventh when Tom Howard powered a ball over the batter's eye in straight-away center field to close the gap to one at 7-6 but Booker walked with one out in the 8th and moved to third on a Martinez double before working his way out of a pickle and stealing home to give the Broncos their eighth run of the contest.

Two more home runs ended the scoring in the game as Theunissen hit his second blast of the game down the left field foul pole to bring the Chippewas within one at 8-7 before McMillen gave Western Michigan some insurance with an arching shot to right-center in the top half of the ninth.

Western Michigan improves to 26-29 on the year and will face No. 3 Miami in a winner's bracket contest tomorrow at 7:30 p.m after winning its first MAC Tournament game since 1999. Central Michigan falls to 29-26 and squares off with Toledo at 9 a.m. in an elimination game.

Scoring Summary:
Top of the 1st
Patrick Duncan singled to right field, Jimmy Martinez scored from third, Ryan McMillin scored on throwing error from RF, Duncan advanced to second base
2-0 Western Michigan

Bottom of the 1st
Jordan Dean sacrificed to center field, Brendan Emmett scored from third
2-1 Western Michigan

Nate Theunissen homered down the left field line, William Arnold scored, Tom Howard scored, Theunissen scored
4-2 Central Michigan

Top of the 2nd
Martinez singled to left-center, Vinnie Booker scored from first, Martinez advanced to second on the throw
4-3 Central Michigan

Zach Thoma doubled down the third base line, Martinez scored from second
Tied 4-4

Top of the 5th
McMillin tripled off the left-center wall, Zach Thoma scored from first
5-4 Western Michigan

Duncan singled up the middle, McMillin scored from third
6-4 Western Michigan

Bottom of the 5th
Will Arnold doubled to right center, Emmett scored from first
6-5 Western Michigan

Top of the 6th
Martinez reached first on a throwing error, Booker scored from second
7-5 Western Michigan

Bottom of the 7th
Howard homered to center field
7-6 Western Michigan

Top of the 8th
Booker stole home, Martinez out at third
8-6 Western Michigan

Bottom of the 8th
Theunissen homered down the left-field line
8-7 Western Michigan

Top of the 9th
McMillin homered to right-center
9-7 Western Michigan