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Webber Powers WMU Past Ohio in First Round of MAC Tournament, Broncos Advance With 4-2 Win

Courtesy: Kristin Keirns, associate director of athletic media relations
Release: 05/23/2012
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AVON, Ohio- Western Michigan left-handed senior Casey Webber was locked in Wednesday morning in the opening game of the 2012 Mid-American Conference baseball tournament, hurling 7.2 innings and containing Ohio to just five hits, as No. 5 WMU advanced to the second round with a 4-2 win.

No. 4 seeded Ohio used a leadoff walk and a two-out single to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, but Webber kept grinding and the Bronco offense caught up with Ohio left-hander Brent Choban for two runs in the sixth.

Western Michigan added runs in the seventh and eighth to build a comfortable 4-1 lead. Ohio scored its second tally with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, hitting back-to-back two-out doubles.

Sophomore RHP Monty Porter relieved Webber in the eighth and recorded the third out of the inning with a ground ball to second. Porter retired the Bobcats in order in the bottom of the ninth, striking out two, for his third save of the year.

At the plate, Zach Thoma went 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. Patrick Duncan and Jared Kujawa also drove in a run. Vinnie Booker and Dan Shutes each had a pair of hits.

Thoma led off the sixth with a ground-rule double that bounced inside the right field line and up into the stands. He scored on an Ohio two-base throwing error, while Ryan McMillin was able to advance to second. Duncan put a shallow single over the shortstop's head and McMillin beat the throw home to give WMU a 2-1 advantage.

Andrew Sohn reached on a throwing error in the seventh, moved up a bag on a sac bunt by Dan Shutes and scored on an RBI single by Thoma through the left side.

McMillin got the Broncos started with a single up the middle in the eighth, which was followed by a sac bunt by Duncan. Ohio opted to intentionally walk senior first baseman Troy Forton, looking to put on a double play possibility. Kujawa made the Bobcats pay for the risky move, punching an RBI single through the right side.

Webber evened his record to 5-5 with the win, striking out two and walking two. He tossed 111 total pitches and got the Bobcats to hit into 15 ground outs. With the two K's, he moved into a tie for fourth all-time with Vic Neigenfind (1930-32) in career strikeouts at WMU with 208.

Duncan had the defensive play of the game in left field in the bottom of the second, robbing Scott White of what could have been an RBI double with a diving catch in the gap in left center.

Ohio's defense had trouble with the turfed playing surface at All-Pro Freight Stadium, committing five errors. Choban (7-6) took the loss on the mound, throwing 8.2 innings.

With the victory WMU improves to 26-27 on the season, matching its win total from last year. The Broncos will face the winner of tonight's 7:30 p.m. game between No. 1 Kent State and No. 8 Buffalo Thursday at 4 p.m.


GAME NOTES: WMU has won its first round MAC Tournament game as a lower seed in each of the last two years (2011, 2012) ... this is the 11th season WMU has qualified for the MAC Tournament and just the third time the Broncos have done so in back-to-back years ... today's win was WMU's sixth all-time in the conference tournament, and the first time WMU has posted wins in back-to-back years ... Monty Porter's appearance was his 28th of the season (previous school record was 26) ... Vinnie Booker tallied his team-leading 18th stolen base of the season.