May 25, 2008


Eastern Michigan wins MAC Championship


By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – The Eagles are soaring!


Second-seed Eastern Michigan posted a 12-4 victory over No. 1 Kent State to capture the 2008 Mid-American Conference Championship at VA Memorial Stadium.


Under first-year head coach Jake Boss, the Eagles (25-32) started the season 0-17 before turning things around, capturing their first MAC title since 2003. EMU fell to the Golden Flashes (36-20) 3-2 a year ago in the championship game.


Sean Hoffman (5-2) earned his second win of the tournament. He threw 128 pitches on Wednesday in a complete-game victory over Western Michigan. On three days rest, Hoffman worked six innings with eight hits, four runs, one walk and one strikeout. Dan Puls tossed three hitless innings with three strikeouts to earn his second save.


Zack Leonard led the Eagles with three hits, two runs and three RBI. Kyle Rhoad and Jeff Davis also had three hits for EMU.


Leonard, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, started the scoring for the Eagles with a monster home run off the scoreboard in left in the top of the second, his ninth dinger.


KSU answered in the bottom of the frame as Jared Bartholomew had a leadoff single, moved to second on a single by Jared Humphreys, went to third on a one-out walk to Brett Weibley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cory Hindel.


EMU snapped the tie in the fourth with a leadoff homer by Josh Ivan, his seventh. Michael Boyd capped a five-run fifth with a three-run homer, his third and second in the past two days, to give the Eagles a 7-1 lead. Jim Gulliver had an RBI double in the top of the sixth to give EMU an 8-1 advantage.


Ben Klafczynski belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to pull KSU to within four at 8-4, but the Eagles answered with four in the top of the seventh, keyed by a two-run single by Jeff Davis, to push the lead to 12-4.


Joining Leonard on the all-tournament team were Ivan, Hoffman and Steve Bradshaw from EMU; Doug Sanders, Greg Rohan and Brad Stillings from KSU; Matt Stoeklen from Ball State, Dave Reynolds from Northern Illinois and Chris Rigo from Ohio.


Congratulations to the staff of the Chillicothe Paints of the Frontier League for hosting a great event. The Paints learned about a month ago that they would host the event, and they did an outstanding job. I hope the tournament returns next spring.