Centennial Celebration Starts with Win

Tuesday afternoon Western Michigan University kicked of it's Centennial Celebration with a 6-5 victory over the University of Michigan Wolverines at Hyames Field. An estimated crowd of 712 fans took advantage of a gorgeous spring day with the temperatures in the 60's and not a cloud in the sky to witness a great baseball game. Before the start of the game Phi Mu Alpha men's music family sang the national anthem and former Bronco great Ed Rossi threw out the first pitch.

In the first inning the Wolverines got on the board when Brock Koman hit a Mark Rasmussen pitch over the wall in right centerfield just to the right of the flag pole with two out for the Wolverines first run of the game. The Broncos were set down in order in the first inning but in the second inning came back to take the lead. Chad Tarpley led of the second inning with a single to right field. Joe Zacharzewski followed with a walk after being down 0-2 in the count. Both runners advanced on a passed ball by catcher Jake Fox. Fox then made a throwing error to second base allowing Tarpley to score and Zacharzewski to take third on the play. Adam Rosales then drove in Zacharzewski with a base hit of his own. Rosales was able to steal second base on a high throw by Fox, took third on a sacrifice fly by Steve Horn and scored on a double by R.C. Dickerson to give the Broncos a 3-1 lead.

The Wolverines responded in the top of the fourth inning. Despite retiring the first two batters of the inning Rasmussen had a little difficulty retiring the third batter, although two throwing errors contributed to the Wolverines scoring two runs to tie the game at three. With two outs Mike Sokol singled to center field. Jordan Cantalamessa laid down a bunt. Zacharzewski came from behind the plate and threw the ball away to allow Sokol to advance to third and Cantalamessa to advance reach first base safely and advance to second. Second baseman Steve Horn attempted to put out Sokol at third base but his throw got away from third baseman Mark Abro allowing Sokol to score and Cantalamessa to advance to third base. Cantalamessa crossed home plate when Brandon Roberts singled to short right field tying the game up at 3-3.

The Broncos came back and regained their half of the fourth inning. Mike Demetral led off the inning with a walk and Steve Horn singled to left. Dickerson moved both runners over on a perfectly laid sacrifice bunt. Matt Bolton then singled to left to drive in Demetral to give the Broncos a 4-3 lead.

The Broncos lead was short lived however. The Wolverines were able to mount another to out rally their third of the game in the top half of the sixth inning. With two outs Rasmussen hit Cantalamessa with a pitch. Roberts came up to bat again and promptly place a Rasmussen pitch past a diving Dickerson in centerfield for a run scoring double to tie the game up at 4-4.

The Broncos came back in the bottom half of the seventh inning and regained their two run lead. Abro led off the inning with an infield single that Cantalamessa couldn't grab a hold of. Fabrizio moved Abro to second on a single to right field. Tarpley laid down a bunt but reached first base when the throw from Fox got away from Cantalamessa covering first base. Fox's throwing error allowed Abro to score and put Fabrizio on at third. Fabrizio score when Zacharzewski hit a sacrifice fly to left field, giving the Broncos a 6-4 lead and the eventual game winning run.

The Wolverines threaten to take the lead in the eighth inning when the loaded the bases with no one out. Fox led off with a single to right field. Sokol followed Fox with a single in almost the exact same spot as Fox hit his single. Coach Decker brought in relief pitcher Zach Straayer bringing a round of applause for Rasmussen. Straayer then hit Cantalamessa with a pitch to load the bases. Brandon Roberts then hit a ground ball to Rosales. Rosales threw to Horn at second who threw to Tarpley at first for the double play. On the play Fox crossed the plate to cutting the Broncos lead to 6-5. Matt Butler was brought in to pinch hit for Jordan Goldschmeding and put an end to the Wolverines rally by flying out to Fabrizio in deep right field.

Straayer took the mound in the ninth and retired the first two batters. Straayer stuck out pinch hitter Jeff Kunkel and got Gino Lollio to ground out to Abro at third base. Nick Rudden hit into what looked to be a for sure ground out to Abro but the ball found it's way through Abro's legs. Coach Decker then brought in Brad Mumma to face Brock Koman. Koman grounded to Horn who tossed the ball to Tarpley at first for the final out.

The win gave the Broncos the season sweep of the Wolverines. They beat the Wolverines 6-2 on March 22 at the Butler Classic earlier this season. The Broncos now have a 4-1 record against the Big Ten this season with only Northwestern remaining on their schedule.

The Broncos (23-21, 15-9 MAC) also improved their record against the 4 major Michigan schools (Michigan State, Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan) to 9-3. The Broncos beat the Spartans in the only game they played, split their four game series with Eastern Michigan and took 4 out of 5 games from the Chippewas. The estimated crowd of 712 was the largest crowd to see a game at Hyames Field this season. Up next is a 3:00pm game today at Hyames Field against the Detroit Titans (13-25, 7-8 Horizon League).

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