YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) — The Eastern Michigan University baseball team lost its final home game of the season, 8-3, to the University of Central Michigan on Sunday afternoon, May 15, inside of the Oestrike stadium.
Despite the loss, it was a special day at the park, especially for nine seniors who donned the Script E for the last time. After a pre-game ceremony which included a presentation of the senior jersey and processions with the family, the mothers of each senior were invited to throw a ceremonial first pitch. Further celebrations followed after the game, where players, staff and family members from each of the seniors gathered for a dinner which included a presentation from the head coach. Eric Roof, as well as every senior student-athlete. The players shared memories, gave advice for those who will remain with the program and expressed their feelings as their college careers draw closer to their respective finals.
In game action, senior Zak Fruit (Dundee, MIch.-Dundee) (4-5) got the ball to start for EMU (21-31, 15-21 MAC) and took the loss. Senior Justin Reinkall (Superior, Wis.-Superior) was a beacon of hope for the Eagles, coming out of the bullpen and pitching five innings, allowing two runs, all earned, on four hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
Kirk’s two extra hits were the highlight of a 2-for-5 day and included a double, a home run and an RBI. Senior Taylor Hopkins (Mason, Ohio-Archbishop Moeller) also had a remarkable day at the plate, going 1 for 5 with a home run and an RBI. First-year student Aaron Dolney (Plymouth, Michigan-Detroit Country Day) also contributed for the Eagles, collecting one hit in three trips to home plate while adding a home run and an RBI.
How did it happen
Trailing 2-0, the Eagles first scored on the board in the third inning. Eastern Michigan scored two runs on solo shots from Kirk and Dolney.
The Chippewas broke the tie and regained the lead in the ninth inning, when the Eagles came back on the scoreboard. Eastern Michigan hit a run on Hopkins’ first home run against senior Jake Jones to tighten the Chippewas’ lead to 8-3. The Eagles couldn’t come close as neither team has scored in the football game yet.
The Eagles outshot Central Michigan’s pitchers three times on Sunday. Eastern Michigan has hit 76 home runs in 52 games this season. This number equates to an average of 1.46 home runs per game. Eastern hasn’t had a season with an average of more than 1.0 home runs since 2009, when the Eagles averaged 100 total home runs, averaging 1.67 per game.
The Eastern Michigan pitchers held Michigan center to just 2-for-10 (.200) with runners in scoring position. The Staff faced 44 Central Michigan batters in the game, allowing 11 ground balls and nine fly balls while striking out five.
Eastern Michigan’s power output was led by Kirk, who had two extra hits in the ballgame, including his 15th home run of the season. His 15 round trips are not only tied for the team lead (Daniel Warkentin (Leamington, Ontario-District of Leamington (Parkland)) – 15), but is also tied for the lead in the Mid-American Conference.
Hopkins threw his seventh homer of the 2022 season for the Eagles. The shortstop now has 29 RBIs. Those two ratings are both the team’s fifth-highest this season.
The Hopkins homer marks the Mason, Ohio native’s fifth straight game with a hitting streak, a current best streak on the team.
Dolney also powered his seventh home run of the season on Sunday. The utility player now has 24 total RBIs on the season.
Reinkall’s 5.0 IP is the longest outing of the right-hander’s college career out of the bullpen for the Eagles.
With a hit in the eighth inning, senior Jared Kauffman (Springboro, Ohio-Bishop Fenwick) scored his 100th career hit while carrying the Green and White. Kauffman joins Shane Easter (Kalamazoo, Michigan – Comstock) and Brady Huebbe (Peru, Ill.-La Salle-Peru (Northern Illinois)) as the only player to reach the milestone this season.
Eastern will round out its regular-season roster with a four-game series against Kent State, May 19-21.