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Baseball returns to first place

YPSILANTI, Mich. – With the Mid-American Conference tournament on the horizon, Central Michigan is back on top just in time.

The CMU baseball team reclaimed the top spot on Sunday by beating Eastern Michigan, 8-3, to complete the Eagles’ four-game MAC Series sweep at Oestrike Stadium.

CMU is 36-16, 28-6 in the conference. The Chippewas entered the weekend 1½ games behind Ball State, which shared a four-game series with Ohio and is 28-7 in the league.

CMU, the two-time defending league champion, leads Ball State by half a game. The final weekend of the regular season begins Thursday, May 19, when the Chippewas open a four-game series with Toledo at Theunissen Stadium. Ball State closes the regular season with a four-game series in Miami, Ohio.

The regular season champion hosts the MAC tournament.

“We work hard not to pay attention to the classification”, coach of the CMU Jordan Bischel mentioned. “Obviously people are aware of that, but we try not to pay too much attention to it because when you play good baseball, (the rankings) take care of themselves.

“But for me what is fun is that we will go home next weekend and our guys will have the chance to play for the championship; not many teams were able to do that last weekend. … It’s fun for our guys to be a part of this environment. There’s no guarantee we’ll win or lose, but I’m proud that they’re able to do it.

Garrett Navarre (6-0) hit a career-high 10 for the win on Sunday. The junior southpaw went seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. Jacques Jones worked the last two frames, allowing a run on three hits while striking out three.

All three EMU races came on solo circuits, two off Navarre.

“We talk a lot about (solo circuits) not beating us,” Bischel said. “The thing is, if you give up a home run, it’s not the end of the world as long as you limit guys on base and don’t issue free passes.

“That’s exactly what happened. Two solo home runs weren’t enough to beat (Navarra); he had a high pitch count after three innings, and I was just hoping he could make five. (innings). But for him to do seven was just really impressive. It’s two weeks in a row where he’s just done a fantastic job.”

Mario Camilletti led the Chippewa offense by 12 hits, including a three-run homer that highlighted a four-run fourth, after which CMU led, 6-2.

Adam Overseer and Danny Wuestenfeld also completed a home run for CMU. It was Wuestenfeld’s eighth team record of the season and it was the fifth for Camilletti and Proctor.

Camilletti extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He hit .578 (11 for 19) in the series with two home runs and five RBIs. He ranks 12and in the country with a base percentage of 0.509.

Sunday’s win was CMU’s fifth straight and the Chippewas have won eight of nine since being swept in a four-game series at Ball State two weeks ago.

“Overall the weekend, I couldn’t be more proud of these guys for what they put into it,” said Bischel, whose team suffered a lightning delay of almost four hours during the first match of Saturday’s doubleheader. “It was a long weekend, hot every day, and we had this big delay (Saturday) which made for a long day.

“More than anything, our pitching and our defense have been great all weekend and when you do that, you’ll have a chance to win.”

As the battle for the regular season title and the privilege of hosting the MAC tournament heats up, the Chippewas face a quick three-day turnaround before facing Toledo.

“(Preparation) starts with rest,” Bischel said. “It’s a short week with Thursday’s game for a hot streak, so we have to get our legs back up, make some good decisions and once again hit the reset button.

“We are convinced that we can go anywhere and play well and win (in the MAC tournament). But for our fans, we would like to be at home and play in front of them. We have great support there. We let’s not put too much pressure on ourselves and make it too big because at the end of the day, we’re in the tournament and that’s what really matters.

“But certainly we have great fans and we would like to give them a chance to stay home and watch us play.”