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2024 Mid-American Conference Baseball Week 12 Recap

2024 Mid-American Conference Baseball Week 12 Recap

Only two weeks remain in the baseball regular season and the MAC Tournament field is starting to take shape. The group of six teams that are at the top of the standings table are close to becoming the six participants in the postseason.

The expanded field and one of the traditional MAC powers resetting after a coaching change means there will be fresh faces competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The first-round byes for the top two seeds are critical for pitching later in the tournament.

Week 12 Conference Standings

Team Conf W Conf L GB Runs For Runs Ag. Win Loss Runs For Runs Ag.
Bowling Green Falcons 19 5 +6.0 269 151 26 17 428 337
Western Michigan Broncos 15 9 +2.0 174 144 25 19 330 302
Miami RedHawks 16 11 +1.5 191 156 24 20 340 312
Toledo Rockets 16 11 +1.5 200 165 23 25 312 325
Ball State Cardinals 14 10 +1.0 172 175 27 19 315 315
Kent State Golden Flashes 13 11 0.0 199 156 23 23 343 294
Northern Illinois Huskies 10 14 3.0 121 145 16 31 278 392
Akron Zips 9 15 4.0 144 178 14 33 280 398
Ohio Bobcats 9 15 4.0 126 209 14 28 245 386
Eastern Michigan Eagles 8 16 5.0 151 210 13 32 305 410
Central Michigan Chippewas 6 18 7.0 117 175 15 32 250 369

Bowling Green is the first team to clinch a spot in the MAC Tournament, which is a surprise to no one who has paid attention this season— though the way they cliched was a bit of a shock, taking the first game of their series before losing the next two to Western Michigan.

The Falcons have become mortal in the second half of the season and a major factor is the loss of DJ Newman. Newman hasn’t appeared in the lineup since April 2nd and hasn’t pitched since April 13th. Losing a 1.119 OPS and 3.16 ERA is always going to hurt and it double hurts when it’s the same person.

Western Michigan holds the second spot and is on top of the second tier of teams separated by two games top to bottom. This second tier is finally starting to separate from the rest of the MAC. Kent State is the current sixth seed in the MAC Tournament and they have a three-game cushion over Northern Illinois.

Miami takes two games from Kent State in the Series of the Week, but both teams come out ok. Miami is tied for third place with Toledo at 16-11 and each has a single MAC series left on their schedule. Ball State split the first two games with Northern Illinois and got everything they needed from Hunter Dobbins in the finale to avoid a painful series loss.

Kent State is 13-11 after their series loss, but they have the best-run differential of anyone except Bowling Green. They are most in danger of not making the MAC Tournament, but they should be ok. I don’t think any team wants to face that lineup in an elimination game. They’re always capable of the big inning with tons of power up and down the lineup.

Toledo launches up to 16-11 after sweeping Eastern Michigan and effectively ending the Eagles’ hopes of making a run at the MAC Tournament.

Akron jumps into a tie for 8th place after sweeping Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant. Akron is 8-1 in their last nine MAC games and has officially recovered from their 1-14 start to the season. Good for the Zips, even if it took a while.

Scenarios for teams to clinch MAC Tournament births

It could be a big week for finalizing the field for the MAC Tournament. It’s the penultimate week of the regular season, so I would hope that we’re finally getting to that point. Every matchup is a top-half team vs a bottom-half team and the gap between the two is three games with six games at most remaining. Bowling Green has already clinched and a sweep for them would lock up the #1 seed.

Let’s start with the big series: Northern Illinois at Western Michigan. Northern Illinois is the closest team on the outside looking in and every loss by the Huskies lowers the bar for the rest of the field. The Huskies currently sit at 10-14. The best record they can achieve is 16-14, so 17 MAC wins automatically clinches a spot.

Western Michigan is at 15 wins and a win for them lowers the number for Northern Illinois. A single win this week for the Broncos clinches a spot for themselves, Miami and Toledo. If Western Michigan pulls the sweep, that would also punch Ball State’s ticket without the Cardinals having to do anything.

Miami needs a single win at home against Ohio to clinch. It’s a rivalry series and those can get squirrelly, but they seem like a lock.

Toledo has their non-conference weekend but can still lock it up if the Broncos can help them out. They put in the work against Eastern Michigan this week and would need a single win against Bowling Green in week 14 if Northern Illinois becomes unbeatable down the stretch.

Ball State’s magic number is three. That means that three wins, three Northern Illinois losses, or some combination of the two (two wins and one NIU loss) would be enough to clinch a post-season bid. Their series against Central Michigan looks winnable, but now is not the time to get sloppy.

Kent State needs help to clinch this week. Their magic number is four so a sweep of Akron and an NIU loss would do it. The problem is that Akron is hot right now. Two of the series were against Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan, the bottom two teams, but a series win against Western Michigan is in there too. Maybe it’s a directional Michigan thing.

It’s possible the field is set after this weekend and the final weekend comes down to seeding for the MAC Tournament. I think it’s most likely that three more teams lock up the postseason and the final two clinch early in the weekend next weekend, but the most exciting turn of events is Northern Illinois making the field. We’ll see where we are next week.

Quick Notes:

  • Akron at Central Michigan: Akron’s starting pitching dominated the series during the sweep. The starters pitched 21 of the 27 innings to 2.14 ERA with 19 strikeouts and four walks. The Zips bullpen didn’t give away free bases and made Central Michigan earn their five earned runs. Akron’s hitters were patient, their baserunners aggressive and they have climbed out of the basement of the MAC.
  • Ball State at Northern Illinois: Northern Illinois couldn’t spread their runs out and lost a critical series. They won game two by nine runs and lost the other two by a combined four runs. Adam Brouwer was amazing in their win but Nate Blain carried the load for the Cardinals on the mound. Hunter Dobbins hits two home runs and drives in six runs in the final game.
  • Western Michigan at Bowling Green: Nic Good shut down the Broncos in the first game of the series, but then Western Michigan came to life. By the underlying numbers, it should have been more in favor of WMU on the scoreboard but that’s not what happened. The Broncos led the MAC in batting average, on-base percentage and weighted on-base percentage but were fifth in runs per game. They left 28 runners on base in 23 innings of baseball and left the door open for the Falcons to have a big inning. Unfortunately for Bowling Green, it never came.
  • Eastern Michigan at Toledo: Toledo followed up a pair of one-run wins with an 11-1 win on Sunday. Toledo walked off the Eagles on Friday with a 4-3 win, courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Owen Jackson. A bases-clearing double by Caden Konczak in the bottom of the eighth was critical to the comeback win. Eastern Michigan’s season is not technically over but the path is narrow and outside of their control.
  • Miami at Kent State: Miami used their bullpen effectively to hold onto a pair of one run wins to take the series from Kent State. Their bullpen is a true weapon for them and tournament baseball demands that teams have options in the back end. Good teams get knocked out when an ace gets knocked around in a big game and the bullpen can’t stop the bleeding. Miami has options and will be a problem in three weeks.
  • Ohio at Virginia Tech: The Bobcats scored five total runs and were ten-run ruled in the first two games. Blake Gaskey had a good start in the final game but it wasn’t enough and the Hokie hitters got to the bullpen. A bad series for the Bobcats where their best stat was an average strikeout rate on offense.

Notable Performances

MAC Team of the Week
C Hunter Dobbins Ball State 4-11, 3 Runs, 6 RBI, 2 2B, 2 HR, BB, HBP
Corner IF TJ Takats Bowling Green 3-11, 7 Runs, RBI, HR, 2 BB, 2 HBP
Corner IF Cade Sullivan Western Michigan 6-19, 5 Runs, 3 RBI, 2B, HR, 3 BB, SB, HBP
Mid IF Michael Hallquist Ball State 4-13, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, 2B, 3 HR, BB
Mid IF Andre Demetral Northern Illinois 6-13, 7 Runs, 4 RBI, 2 2B, 3 BB, 2 HBP
OF Zach MacDonald Miami 6-13, 3 Runs, 5 RBI, 2 HR
OF Nathan Archer Bowling Green 9-23, 6 Runs, 11 RBI, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, BB, Sac Fly
OF Dylan Nevar Western Michigan 6-20, 6 Runs, 8 RBI, 2B, 3 HR, BB, SB, HBP, Sac Fly
Extra Hitter CJ Richmond Western Michigan 12-18, 3 Runs, 7 RBI, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 2 BB, Sac Fly
SP Benny Roebuck Kent State 2 Wins, 2 Apps, 8 IP, 6 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HBP
SP Adam Brouwer Northern Illinois Win, 7 IP, 2 H, R, ER, 3 K, HBP
SP Spencer Atkins Akron Win, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HBP
RP Nate Blain Ball State 2 Wins, 2 Apps, 9.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, BB, 12 K
RP Joe Shapiro Western Michigan Win, 3 Apps, 5.1 IP, 2 H, BB, 7 K
RP Sean Perkins Akron 2 Saves, 3 Apps, 4.2 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 7 K, 2 HBP

CJ Richmond is a regular in the “Extra Hitter” position and he did it again with four extra-base hits. WMU needed all four hits in game two when he drove in two runs in a 6-4 win over Bowling Green. Richmond had multiple hits in each of the four games Western Michigan played this week. He’s had a hit in 12 of the last 13 with 25 total hits over that span.

The outfielders are where the runs get driven in in the MAC. Zach MacDonald, Nathan Archer and Dylan Nevar combined to drive in 24 runs and seven home runs. All three of these players are on other team’s radar and they still collect their hits. In the case of Nathan Archer and Dylan Nevar, it’s hard to pitch around them with other big bats in the lineup. Zach MacDonald gets protected by Ryland Zaborowski, but that’s about it. Stop pitching to MacDonald.

Benny Roebuck made two starts for the Golden Flashes and got the win in the important MAC game. He pitched three innings against Michigan in the mid-week matchup and gave up a single hit and a single walk in three innings of work. He allowed his only run against Miami on Saturday, but kept out of trouble in five more innings. That was his first MAC start of the season.

Spencer Atkins was the one-ish WHIP with more strikeouts than walks. He dominated Central Michigan for six innings and didn’t allow a run. Relief pitcher Sean Perkins earned the save in that game with two innings pitched. He only needed 14 pitches to finish that game and needed 28 to finish the Friday game.

Nate Blain put up starter innings in two appearances this week. Both came in MAC games, which is surprising. Usually when a reliever totals a full game’s worth of innings in a week, he is the long guy in a midweek game. Not the case for Blain. He pitched 3.2 innings on Friday and the final six on Sunday. Over the three days he threw 134 pitches.

A look ahead to Week 13:

The Series of the Week in week 13 is Northern Illinois at Western Michigan for postseason purposes. The Huskies have had good pitching all season and Colin Summerhill can go off at any moment. I wouldn’t count NIU out by any stretch, but Western Michigan is the clear favorite.

Ball State hosts Central Michigan, Bowling Green heads to Ypsilanti for Eastern Michigan, Kent State is at Akron and Ohio is playing for the bricks at Miami. Every series is a top-six team versus a bottom-five team. Toledo has their non-conference weekend with Notre Dame to balance it evenly.

If the week goes all chalk, there could be very little to discuss in Week 13. If the week goes how November #MACtion goes, there will be chaos. It would take a lot for there to be real chaos, but I’m here for it if it happens.

Series Scores:

Date Away Score Home
5-1 Akron Zips 13-18 Ohio State Buckeyes
5-3 Akron Zips 7-4 Central Michigan Chippewas
5-4 Akron Zips 9-1 Central Michigan Chippewas
5-5 Akron Zips 8-5 Central Michigan Chippewas
Next Opp. vs Kent State Next Opp. at Michigan (Tues), at Ball State
Date Away Score Home
5-1 Northern Illinois Huskies 5-6 Milwaukee Panthers
5-3 Ball State Cardinals 4-3 Northern Illinois Huskies
5-4 Ball State Cardinals 3-12 Northern Illinois Huskies
5-5 Ball State Cardinals 13-10 Northern Illinois Huskies
Next Opp. vs Butler (Tues), vs Central Michigan Next Opp. vs St. Thomas (Wed), at Western Michigan
Date Away Score Home
4-2 Bowling Green Falcons 18-21 Oakland Grizzlies
4-30 Toledo Rockets 17-9 Bowling Green Falcons
4-30 Valparaiso Beacons 6-8 F/15 Western Michigan Broncos
5-1 Oakland Grizzlies 8-19 F/7 Bowling Green Falcons
5-3 Western Michigan Broncos 3-8 Bowling Green Falcons
5-4 Western Michigan Broncos 6-4 Bowling Green Falcons
5-5 Western Michigan Broncos 11-0 F/7 Bowling Green Falcons
Next Opp. vs Northern Illinois Next Opp. at Michigan State (Tues), at Purdue FW (Wed), at Eastern Michigan
Date Away Score Home
4-30 Toledo Rockets 17-9 Bowling Green Falcons
5-3 Eastern Michigan Eagles 9-10 F/10 Toledo Rockets
5-4 Eastern Michigan Eagles 3-4 Toledo Rockets
5-5 Eastern Michigan Eagles 1-11 F/7 Toledo Rockets
Next Opp. at Ohio State (Tues), vs Bowling Green Next Opp. at Oakland (Tues), at Notre Dame
Date Away Score Home
4-30 Kent State Golden Flashes 4-6 Michigan Wolverines
5-3 Miami RedHawks 4-3 Kent State Golden Flashes
5-4 Miami RedHawks 2-10 Kent State Golden Flashes
5-5 Miami RedHawks 9-8 Kent State Golden Flashes
Next Opp. at Xavier (Wed), vs Ohio Next Opp. at Akron
Date Away Score Home
5-4 Ohio Bobcats 1-14 F/7 Virginia Tech Hokies
5-4 Ohio Bobcats 2-14 F/7 Virginia Tech Hokies
5-5 Ohio Bobcats 2-11 Virginia Tech Hokies
Next Opp. at Xavier (Wed), vs Ohio