Broncos Chasing Division Title

With three weeks left in the regular season, Western Michigan (19-20 overall) continues its bid for a Mid-American Conference West Division title while also drawing closer to a winning record. The Broncos stand second in the MAC West with a 12-8 mark heading into a weekend series (May 2-4) at Bowling Green.

Friday's contest begins at 3:00 p.m. at Warren E. Steller Field. Saturday's doubleheader (7/9 inn.) starts at 1:00 p.m., followed by a single game on Sunday with first pitch at 1:00 p.m. WMU encounters Valparaiso of the Mid-Continent Conference on Wednesday (April 30) in a 9-inning contest slated for 3:00 p.m. at Hyames Field.

PITCHING ROTATION (subject to change)
LHP — Clark Sterley (2-3, 4.35 ERA, 25 Ks, 39.1 IP)
BGSU series:
Game #1 — LHP Brad Mumma (6-4, 3.65 ERA, 58 Ks, 69.0 IP)
Game #2 — LHP Pat Misch (3-1, 3.38 ERA, 31 Ks, 42.2 IP) Game #3 — LHP J.R. Mathes (1-3, 6.75 ERA, 11 Ks, 18.2 IP) or Sterley
Game #4 — RHP Keith Perez (4-3, 3.49 ERA, 55 Ks, 59.1 IP)

Western Michigan moved up a spot in the MAC West standings into second place after taking three of four games from Central Michigan in a home-and-home series. The Broncos recorded a doubleheader sweep of the Chippewas Friday (April 25) in Kalamazoo. Joe Zacharzewski's single to center in the bottom seventh scored Tom Fabrizio for the decisive run in a 3-2 victory in the series opener. WMU posted a 9-3 win in game two as 3B Mark Abro went 3-for-5 at the plate with 4 RBI. The Brown & Gold then split a twinbill Sunday (April 27) in Mount Pleasant, taking the first game 3-1 behind a four-hitter from Pat Misch. CMU came back to win the nightcap, 13-7, pounding out 16 hits and using a five-run fifth inning to pull away. The CMU series provided the lone action for WMU as the team did not play any mid-week games due to final exams.

Senior LHP Brad Mumma has put together a remarkable string of starts for the Broncos. Beginning with a one-hitter at Xavier on March 15, Mumma has tossed seven consecutive complete games. Mumma's complete game efforts break down as follows: four games of 7 innings, one game of 8 innings, two games of 9 innings. His streak nearly came to an end last week when CMU loaded the bases with one out in the top seventh. Coach Fred Decker received word from the bullpen that a reliever was ready, but left Mumma in to face one last batter. The Broncos turned a double play to end the threat, then won the game in the bottom of the inning. Mumma owns three more complete games than any other pitcher in the MAC and ranks second in innings pitched (69.0).

The 100th anniversary of WMU's founding will be celebrated next Tuesday (May 6), when WMU plays host to Michigan in a Centennial Celebration game at Hyames Field. Special promotions tied in with the game include: 25 cent hot dogs, $5 haircuts on site, a barber shop quartet and a ceremonial first pitch to the 4:00 p.m. start. Admission into the contest is free.

*Valparaiso (14-25-1) has won six of nine games after sweeping a non-conference home doubleheader from Bradley Tuesday (April 29) by the scores of 1-0 and 3-1. The Crusaders feature back-to-back Mid-Con pitchers of the week with Tom Starck (2-1, 3.48) earning honors on Monday after Todd Evans (2-5, 5.85) was recognized last week. Head Coach Paul Twenge, the 2001 Mid-Con Coach of the Year, recorded his 300th win at the Indiana school this year.
*Bowling Green (13-19, 6-10 MAC) travels to Ohio State Wednesday (April 30) prior to hosting WMU this weekend. BGSU dropped three of four games at Marshall last week and currently resides in sixth place in the MAC West. The Falcons sport the league's top ERA at 4.39, while offensively, senior Kelly Hunt owns the second-best batting average in the circuit (.426). He became the school's career RBI leader (179) last week.

Western Michigan suffered a 9-1 loss at Valparaiso last year, but leads the all-time series, 33-8. WMU has struggled against BGSU in recent years, dropping nine straight dating to 1997. WMU's last win at BG occurred during the 1996 season. The two teams did not meet in 2001 or 2002. The Broncos still hold a 64-47 advantage all-time.

Fred Decker is in his 28th season at Western Michigan, having compiled a career record of 764-672-6. His 764 wins are the most in WMU Athletics history while his 390 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.

After starting the season 0-8, WMU is now one game under .500 … LHP Pat Misch made a triumphant return to the mound last week, tossing a four-hitter against CMU. A fifth-round pick of the Houston Astros last summer, Misch missed a month of action due to a leg bruise … RF Tom Fabrizio moved into the third spot in MAC batting (.420) despite having his nine-game hitting streak halted last week … redshirt freshman Tony Scheffler, a tight end on the football team, made his baseball debut against CMU, reaching base three times (two errors, triple) in the doubleheader sweep.

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