Leonard drives in four as
Eastern Michigan advances
By Phil Stanton
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Western Michigan got done in
by a Zack attack.
Freshman Zack Leonard had a two-run double in a
four-run first and a two-run homer in a three-run seventh as
second-seeded Eastern Michigan got by No. 7 Western Michigan 8-5
in the first round of the 2008 Mid-American Conference
Tournament at VA Memorial Stadium.
The Eagles (22-32) advance to meet Bowling Green
on Thursday, while the Broncos (29-22-1) will face Ohio in an
Josh Ivan had an RBI single for EMU with two outs
in the bottom of the first before Leonard’s two-bagger pushed
the lead to 3-0. Leonard came home on Andrew Marshall’s base hit
for a 4-0 advantage.
“In the first inning,” Leonard said, “we always
like to come out and score first to set the tone for the whole
game and for the tournament. The big thing Coach likes to do is
have us hitters be aggressive on fastballs with runners in
scoring position. The first pitch was a fastball and I let it
go. Then he came back with another fastball and that’s the one I
WMU answered immediately with four in the top of
the second as Pedro Dager had an RBI double and scored. The
Broncos took the lead in the third on Dager’s second RBI double.
The Eagles evened the score at 5-5 in the fourth
on Aaron Powell’s eighth homer. EMU snapped the tie in the
seventh on an RBI single by Jeff Davis. After a sacrifice,
Leonard blasted a homer to dead center, his eighth, to give the
Eagles an 8-5 lead.
“Western’s a great team,” Leonard said, “so I
knew that one run wasn’t going to be enough. So I tried to swing
at another fastball in the zone, which Coach likes, and luckily
it went over the wall.”
Sean Hoffman (4-2) went the distance for EMU with
six hits, three earned runs, three walks and four strikeouts. He
retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.
“That was huge for us,” said EMU head coach Jake
Boss. “He’s a tough kid and he seems to get better as the game
goes on. He struggled a little bit in the second inning, but
after that really settled into it and did a heck of a job for
us. In Game 1, if you can get a complete game, that really helps
out your staff for the rest of the tournament, so we’re really
proud of Sean’s effort.”
Boss, in his first season as skipper of the
Eagles, was named MAC Coach of the Year.
The Broncos committed three errors in the contest
and WMU pitchers walked five.
“We didn’t play well,” said WMU head coach Randy
Ford. “We didn’t take care of the baseball very good. We got off
to a rough start. I don’t know if our focus was there at the
beginning of the game, but we missed a coverage at first base
and then we gave up a couple of hits, gave up a four-spot, so it
was a tough way to start the game. Then I thought we bounced
back and got it going, played pretty well. We just didn’t play
clean enough baseball. I take my hat off to Eastern Michigan,
they played well. Hoffman was a bulldog out there. He stayed out
there and he’s put them in a good position for the next game or
two because he stayed out there and sucked it up, so I tip my
hat to him. They hit a couple balls out, we didn’t. It’s a tough