Broncos Fight On, Rally Past Defending MAC Champion BGSU in the Ninth
AVON, Ohio- Western Michigan scored four runs in the top of the ninth to come from behind and defeat Bowling Green, 7-4, Thursday, eliminating the defending conference champions from the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
No. 8 seed WMU advances and faces No. 1 Ball State tomorrow at 4:30 p.m., in a rematch of game three of the tournament, in which the Cardinals edged the Broncos, 5-3.
WMU took an early 3-0 advantage against No. 5 seed Bowling Green with a run in the first and two more in the second, but watched the lead slip away in the fourth, as the Falcons used three Bronco errors to score four runs (three unearned) in the inning.
A close call at the plate prevented Western Michigan from tying the game in the eighth. Theo Piccirilli led off with a pinch hit single up the middle and with two outs slid into home, head first, on a ball driven to left field by Vinnie Booker. Piccirilli appeared to beat the tag with his left hand across the plate, but was punched out for the third out, a ruling that was heavily contested by Western Michigan.
The Brown & Gold wouldn’t be denied in the ninth, as a spark in the Bronco dugout had been ignited. Grant Miller and Andrew Sohn cracked back-to-back one-out singles and WMU went on to rally for four runs in the inning. Brett Sunde and Jared Kujawa each reachly safely in key at bats on misplays by the Falcons. Piccirilli drove in a run with an RBI single and Hunter Prince and Steve Buglione picked up RBIs as they were both hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
WMU sophomore closer Gabe Berman was brought out in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Falcons in order with three fly outs for his ninth save of the year.
Western Michigan has advanced to the MAC Tournament in three of four seasons under head coach Billy Gernon and has now posted a win in all three showings, each time upsetting higher seeded teams.
Six different players had a hit for Western Michigan as the team totaled nine all together. Sohn hit his seventh double of the year and went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Piccirilli was 2-for-2 with an RBI and Booker (2-for-3) also had two hits.
Defensively, left fielder Dan Shutes made a big play in the bottom of the first gunning down a Falcon runner at the plate. Mayle had a pickoff at first in the second inning and Sunde threw out a runner attempting to steal third in the sixth.