Broncos Sweep Northern Illinois, Secure Spot in MAC Tournament
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- With a weekend sweep of Northern Illinois, Western Michigan has punched its ticket to the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament, May 23-26, at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
The Broncos downed the Huskies 13-9 Friday, 5-4 Saturday and completed the sweep with a 6-1 win on Senior Day Sunday. WMU's record stands at 23-25 on the year and 13-10 in the MAC with four regular-season games to play, including a series at Central Michigan, May 17-19.
Western Michigan has won its last six-straight conference games, also taking all three last weekend on the road at Ball State. WMU has posted four series sweeps this season, the most since 2006.
The Broncos, under second-year head coach Billy Gernon, are also making back-to-back appearances in the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2005 & 2006.
Senior third baseman Ryan McMillin led Western Michigan's offense Sunday, going 3-for-4 with three doubles and four RBIs. He helped WMU build on a 3-1 lead and put the game away with a one-run double in the seventh and a two-run double in the eighth.
Freshman RHP Will Nimke (4-3) earned the win on the mound, scattering six hits and one run over 5.1 innings. He struck out three and issued just one walk.
Sophomore right-handed reliever Monty Porter came up big out of the bullpen, getting WMU out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the sixth. WMU was clinging to a 2-1 lead and Nimke was pulled after taking a ball up the middle off the ankle. Porter got Joe Battagalia to hit a groundball to McMillin and the Broncos turned a 5-2-3 double play.
Porter would work into the eighth until he gave way to left-handed freshman Matt Nestor who threw the final 1.2 innings, picking up his second career save.
Both Northern Illinois and Western Michigan put a run on the board in the opening frame. McMillin scored Vinnie Booker with his first of three doubles, after Booker had reached on a single.
Dan Shutes drove in WMU's second run with a sac fly in the second. The Broncos added an insurance run to go up 3-1 in the sixth when Andrew Sohn singled down the left field line and Jared Kujawa beat the throw home to score from second.
Western Michigan totaled 10 hits in the game, Booker also having a multi-hit day, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
WMU hosts Big Ten opponent Michigan Tuesday, May 15, at 3 p.m. in the Broncos' final home game of the season.