MAC Baseball Tournament Bracket
Bowling Green 6, Northern Illinois 4 (11 innings)
AVON, Ohio—For the second straight game, the Bowling Green State University baseball team found itself in an early 4-0 hole. And, for the second straight game, the Falcons found a way to come back and win it, this time a 6-4 win in 11 innings over Northern Illinois. The first round game of the Mid-American Conference Tournament was played at All Pro Freight Stadium. With the win, the Falcons advance in the winner’s bracket, where they will meet the winner of No.2 Buffalo and No. 7 Toledo on Thursday night at 7:30 pm.
NIU’s Eli Anderson was dominant early on, retiring the first 12 Falcon batters he faced. Anderson’s prowess allowed the Huskies to jump out to a 4-0 lead after just three innings.
Falcon starter Cody Apthorpe was hurt early on by some NIU luck, as the Huskies got three infield hits and an error in a three-run third. Apthorpe went 3.2 innings on Wednesday, allowing two earned runs.
In the bottom of the fourth, Apthorpe gave way to reliever Ethan McKenney. McKenney would work out of the bases loaded jam, stabilizing the game and giving the Falcons offense a chance. McKenney was dominant, going five innings and allowing just one hit in relief.
After the first 12 Falcons were set down in order, the Orange and Brown would get into the hit column with a leadoff single in the fifth by Jeremy Shay. Shay, named second team All-MAC on Tuesday, proved that he belonged with a two hit, two RBI day on Wednesday. The next three Falcons would all follow Shay, as the Falcons began the fifth with four singles and two runs.
Trailing 4-2 into the seventh, Shay would have a good at-bat once again. Leading off the top of the seventh, he would barely miss a home run, hitting one off the top of the wall in right-center field for a triple. He would come home on Jesse Rait’s RBI groundout, and after seven innings of play the Falcons trailed just 4-3.
In the top of the eighth, with NIU’s Anderson still on the hill, the Falcons would get two base runners with one out. Matt Pitzulo was hit by a pitch and T.J. Losby walked to push Pitzulo into scoring position. With Patrick Lancaster coming up, the Falcons would send Fred Sharp into the game as a pinch-runner at second.
On the very first pitch, Lancaster would hit a chopper through the right side, and with Sharp sliding home safely, the game was tied at four.
In the bottom of the eighth, McKenney would issue a leadoff walk, snapping a streak of 10 straight Huskies that he had retired. McKenney would work out of it, keeping the game tied.
With a new ballgame, NIU’s reliever would come into the contest and retire the Falcons in order. With a chance to win it in the ninth, the Huskies would get a one-out single off of McKenney. With two outs and a runner on second, Nick Bruns would get a fly out to work out of it.
In the tenth, Bruns would hit an NIU batter with a pitch, giving the Huskies a base runner with one out. Once again, the Falcons’ pitching staff would work out of it, as he forced a groundout and fly out to get out of it.
Following seven straight scoreless innings tossed by the Orange and Brown, the offense would deliver in the 11th. Rait would begin the top of the frame with a single. After a Jake Thomas sacrifice bunt, Brian Bien would hit a single up the middle. On Bien’s single, the NIU second baseman would get to the ball, holding Rait at third. With runners on the corners, the Falcons would take a lead on a wild pitch to score Rait. Also on that wild pitch, Bien would go from first to third, never stopping at second. Bien would come home on Logan Walker’s triple, giving the Falcons a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the 11th.
NIU appeared to be ready for a comeback in the home half, as they began the inning with a single and HBP. However, after a missed sacrifice bunt attempt, Losby would pick off the runner on second base for a huge first out in the inning. Bruns would get the batter looking for the second out, and blow a pitch by the pinch-hitter to finish the game.
The first round win in the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Wednesday over Northern Illinois marked the first time the Falcons have won a first round game since the 2010 MAC Tournament.