Akin Dominates in 6-1 Victory, Broncos Win Series Against Eastern Michigan
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Western Michigan defeated Eastern Michigan 6-1 in game three Sunday to win this weekend’s Mid-American Conference series, two games to one. With the victory, the Broncos improved to 19-24 and 8-13 in conference play, keeping WMU in the hunt for a spot in the upcoming MAC Tournament at the end of the month.
Western Michigan finished the week with a 4-1 record, taking two of three against the Eagles and posting non-conference midweek road victories over Valparaiso and Notre Dame. It was the first time Western Michigan has won the annual series against their in-state counterpart since sweeping Eastern Michigan in 2006.
Bronco freshman left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin (4-3) was dominant on the mound, tossing his second complete game of the season. He retired the first 15 batters he faced, not allowing a hit until the sixth, and gave up just three hits in the game. He struck out five and walked four.
Offensively, sophomore second baseman Kurt Hoekstra led the way with three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored, batting 3-for-4 with a triple. Senior Dan Shutes went 2-for-3 while junior shortstop Andrew Sohn doubled and drove in two.
The Broncos scored two runs in the first, second and fifth innings and held Eastern Michigan off the board until the sixth.
Hoekstra led off the bottom of the first with a single to right. Sohn scorched an RBI double to left center in the next at bat and came home on a two-out fielding error by the EMU shortstop.
Theo Piccirilli singled to right to get WMU started in the second. Shutes bunted down the third base line for a hit and both runners moved up a base on a sac bunt by Vinnie Booker. Hoekstra ripped a single up the middle to drive in the pair.
Booker was plunked by a pitch in the fifth and Hoekstra continued his hot-hitting, belting his fourth triple of the season and collecting his third RBI of the game. Hoekstra trotted home on a groundout by Sohn.
The Eagles’ first hit off of Akin was a leadoff single up the middle by Marquise Gill in the sixth. Gill went on to score Eastern Michigan’s only run of the game. Defensively, Western Michigan shut down Eastern Michigan in the sixth with a 4-6-3 double play when EMU had runners on the corners.
The Broncos made it a short day for EMU starter Jake Andrews (3-5), chasing the right-hander in the third after giving up four runs and five hits. The Eagles dropped to 17-29 and 4-17 in the MAC.
Western Michigan returns to Homer Stryker Field Tuesday and Wednesday, hosting Michigan State and then Valparaiso in the final home games of the year. Both are 3 p.m. first pitches. The Broncos close out the regular season with MAC series at Toledo (May 9-11) and Central Michigan (May 15-17).
The top eight teams from the conference advance to the postseason MAC Tournament, May 21-25, at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
GAME NOTES: Keegan Akin’s complete-game was WMU’s second of the weekend, senior LHP Steve Laudicina also tossed a CG in Friday’s 5-1 win ... as a staff, the Broncos have tossed seven CGs in 2014, most since 2003 ... Hoekstra’s triple was the team’s 18th of the season, most for the program since hitting 26 in 1989 ... Western Michigan honored its seven seniors: Vinnie Booker, David Brennan, Steve Buglione, Steve Laudicina, Theo Piccirilli, Monty Porter and Dan Shutes prior to the game.