Broncos in Showdown vs. Chippewas

Western Michigan (16-19 overall, 9-7 MAC) takes on arch-rival Central Michigan this weekend as the Mid-American Conference pennant race heats up. With half of the MAC schedule complete, WMU holds down the last spot for the six-team postseason tournament with CMU in a three-way tie for seventh place.

WMU will host CMU in a 1:00p.m. doubleheader Friday (April 25) at Hyames Field before moving on to Mount Pleasant on Sunday (April 27) for a 1:00 p.m. twinbill at Theunissen Stadium. The Broncos do not have any mid-week games due to final exams.

PITCHING ROTATION (subject to change)
CMU series:
Game #1 — LHP Brad Mumma (5-4, 3.77 ERA, 53 Ks, 62.0 IP)
Game #2 — RHP Keith Perez (3-3, 3.68 ERA, 49 Ks, 51.1 IP)
Game #3 — LHP J.R. Mathes (1-2, 6.14 ERA, 8 Ks, 14.2 IP)
Game #4 — LHP Pat Misch (2-1, 3.68 ERA, 28 Ks, 36.2 IP)

Western Michigan split a weekend series (April 18-20) at Eastern Michigan, retaining its hold of third place in the MAC West Division. In the series opener, WMU fell behind 6-0 and despite a furious rally, came up short 6-5. The Broncos responded with a doubleheader sweep on Saturday, posting its largest victory margin of the season in a 8-0 win, followed by a 7-3 victory. Keith Perez recorded his third career shutout in game one, while RF Tom Fabrizio (6-for-9, 7 RBI) and 3B Mark Abro (7-for-9, 5 runs) turned in tremendous days at the plate. EMU captured the series finale, 4-3, handing WMU its seventh one-run loss of the year. Earlier in the week (April 16), WMU defeated Michigan State, 4-2, on a chilly night in Lansing's Oldsmobile Park.

Senior RF Tom Fabrizio is putting together a solid season as his name appears among the conference leaders in several areas. Fabrizio has safely hit in 28 of 35 games, having strung together hitting streaks of seven, eight and nine (current) games. His .427 season batting average is sixth-highest in school history (third-best in the MAC) while his .483 mark in league play is fourth-highest among MAC players. Fabrizio's 56 hits are third best in the circuit as well.

Western Michigan has defeated four of Michigan's Division I teams and owns an overall mark of 5-2 versus Great Lake opponents. WMU knocked off Central Michigan and Michigan at the Butler Classic in March, defeated Michigan State last week in Lansing and split four games at Eastern Michigan. The Broncos clash with CMU four more times this week before a rematch with Michigan on May 6 and a non-conference date with Detroit on May 7.

*Central Michigan (15-17, 5-5 MAC) took three of four games against Toledo last weekend and have won five of six games. Senior OF Tommy Grubb sports a team-best .359 average as one of six Chippewas hitting over .300. CMU also features one of the MAC's best closers in David LeMieux, who owns a 3-0 mark with six saves and a 2.97 ERA. The Chips encounter Michigan State in East Lansing Wednesday prior to its series against WMU. CMU is 6-2 within the confines of Theunissen Stadium this spring.

The Brown & Gold squeezed past Central Michigan, 2-1, at the Butler Classic on March 21. Last year WMU captured three of four games versus CMU, and in 130 meetings, leads the all-time series 74-56.

Fred Decker is in his 28th season at Western Michigan, having compiled a career record of 761-671-6. His 761 wins are the most in WMU Athletics history while his 387 conference wins tops the all-time list among MAC coaches. Decker led WMU to the 1989 MAC Championship and West Division titles in 1982 and 1983. He was inducted into WMU's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. A total of 85 former players have been drafted by MLB.

"This is a huge week for us. I was very impressed with CMU's team at the Butler Classic. These games are going to be a dog fight, just like the EMU series. They (CMU) are the No. 1 rivalry for us, no question about it. We've viewed it like that for a long time."

Senior LHP Pat Misch is slated to return to action this week after being sidelined three weeks with a bruised leg, injured on a line drive at Marshall on March 28 … senior LHP Brad Mumma tossed his sixth consecutive complete game in a one-run loss at Eastern Michigan. Mumma's eight complete efforts are fourth-most in a WMU campaign, with John Stewart (1998) holding the record at 11. Mumma ranks among MAC leaders in several categories, leading the way in shutouts (2) and complete games, while standing second in strikeouts (53) and innings pitched (62.0) … LHP J.R. Mathes, making his first start since March 8, tossed three innings of one-hit ball in a victorious outing against Michigan State. Mathes followed up with a four-hitter over five innings in a no-decision at EMU … Fred Decker's squad committed just one error in four games at EMU, improving its fielding percentage to .969 — second best in the MAC … Tom Fabrizio's 51 doubles are five shy of the school career record held by Kris Gundrum (1996-99) … MAC schools are a combined 14-12 versus the Big Ten this year. WMU owns a 3-1 mark against the Big Ten … following the CMU doubleheader at Hyames Friday, WMU will play six of its next seven games on the road.

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