Broncos Win 10-Inning Thriller Over Oakland, 3-2
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Western Michigan earned its fourth win in a row, defeating non-conference opponent Oakland, 3-2, in 10 innings Wednesday.
Jared Kujawa delivered his second game-winning walk-off hit this season, slapping a two-out single through the left side. The freshman catcher also came through with the game-tying RBI with two down in the bottom of the eighth.
Left-handed starter Mike Moyer fanned a career high and team-season best seven batters in 5.1 innings, allowing one run and three hits. Late reliever Patrick Borlik earned the win, his third of the season, throwing the final 1.2 innings.
WMU struck first in the game with a run in the bottom of the first and then allowed the Golden Grizzlies to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth. WMU knotted the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth and went on to win in the extra frame.
Leadoff man Vinnie Booker singled in the first and stole second for his team-leading ninth swipe of the season. Booker moved to third on a balk and scored on a sacrifice fly by Zach Thoma to put WMU up, 1-0.
Moyer was untouchable for the first three innings, retiring the first nine batters he faced, striking out five. Oakland recorded its first hit in the fourth and went on to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Moyer stranded both, ending the inning with a pair of pop outs.
Moyer struck out two more batters in the fifth and reached his pre-determined pitch count in the top of the sixth. Right-hander reliever Chris Bossenbery inherited one on with one out. The runner, Jake Morton, stole second and third and tied the game on an RBI double by Mike Carson. A fielding error enabled Carson to score, unearned, giving OU a 2-1 lead.
WMU left runners on the corners in the bottom of the sixth and both sides went down in order in the seventh. RHP Monty Porter worked most of the eighth and got out of a bases-loaded jam.
Patrick Duncan singled with one out in the bottom of the eighth and moved to second on a groundout. Kujawa hit a slow grounder to the right of the second base bag and legged out the throw to first. With the two outs, Duncan didn't slow up after rounding third and slid head first to beat the tag at the plate.
Borlik recorded the final two outs of the ninth and retired OU in order in the 10th. Kujawa was big defensively in the ninth, gunning down a runner attempting to steal third for the third out following a swinging strikeout.
Booker drew a leadoff walk in the 10th and Thoma bunted (sac) Booker over to second. Duncan lined out to the shortstop, but Booker was able to scramble back to the bag to avoid the double-up. Oakland chose to intentionally walk Ryan McMillin after falling behind 3-0 in the count, sending Kujawa to the plate. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Kujawa drove the first pitch he saw through the left side of the infield for the 3-2 win.
Both WMU and Oakland had seven hits in the game. Kujawa was the only Bronco with multiple knocks, going 2-for-3 with the two RBIs and a pair of walks.
The win improved Western Michigan's record to 11-10 on the year. The Broncos return to Mid-American Conference play this weekend, heading to Buffalo for a three-game series, March 30 through April 1.
GAME NOTES: Three of WMU's last four wins have been one-run victories, and Borlik has earned the win or the save in each of those games ... as a staff, WMU totaled a team season-high 12 K's ... with a single in the first, McMillin (1-for-4) extended his current hitting streak to 15 games ... Troy Forton (0-for-3) had an 11-game hitting streak come to an end.