KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Pinch hitter Joe Sheets drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Western Michigan a 6-5 win over Wayne State in its home opener Wednesday afternoon.
Tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 10th, Wayne State opted to intentionally walk Zach Gentile with two outs and two runners on base to put the force on at every bag. Daniel Baird replaced Chuck Pate on the mound, and was shaky from the first pitch, as his initial toss zipped past his catcher. Sheets patiently withstood the at bat, fighting off two foul balls before Baird committed his fourth ball, and gave WMU the 6-5 win.
WMU’s Derek Schlecker (1-2) earned his first win of the season, pitching the final two innings. He recorded two strikeouts and allowed just one hit, sending the side down in order in the 10th.
The Broncos (6-13) took an early 2-0 lead, but entered the bottom of the ninth trailing by one, 5-4. A walk, passed ball and sacrifice bunt placed Gentile on third and Nathan Marquardt came through in the clutch, sending the game into extra innings with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Western Michigan scored twice in the first, and owned a 3-1 lead after six innings, but a defensive lapse in the seventh enabled the Warriors to pull in front 4-3.
With two men on base, two costly Bronco throwing errors allowed both to score and Wayne State manufactured a third run before WMU got out of the inning.
WMU briefly trailed by two, 5-3, when Wayne State posted another run in the top of the eighth. The Brown &Gold fought back with a tally in the bottom half of the inning, as Brent Gerlach came through with a two-out RBI single. Marquardt’s sacrifice fly in the ninth evened the game at five apiece heading into extra play.
Gerlach led WMU with three hits and an RBI, while Marquardt had two hits and two RBIs. Matt Abro also had two hits. Gentile scored half of the Broncos’ runs, reaching base four times on three walks and a single.
Pate (1-1) was saddled with the loss, giving up one run on one hit and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. Wayne State (13-7) had three individuals collect two hits each.
The Broncos will continue its four-game homestand, hosting Bowling Green in a three-game Mid-American Conference series this weekend. Game one commences on Friday at Hyames Field at 3 p.m., followed by 1 p.m. contests on Saturday and Sunday.