MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - The University of Akron (15-32, 10-12 MAC) baseball team clinched the three game Mid-American Conference series on Saturday afternoon against Central Michigan University (22-27, 9-14 MAC) by a score of 11-2 in the second game of the series at Theunissen Stadium.
Freshman John Valek III made his 12th start of the season on Saturday, and provided Akron 8.1 innings on the mound with five hits, two runs and four strikeouts. The native of Parkland, Fla., improved his record to 4-7 with the win.
"Valek was superb today. He is in complete control when he's out there and, before the ninth, one of the three hits he gave up to that point was a drag bunt," Head Coach Rick Rembielak said after the win. "[Valek] kept making pitches under tough weather conditions."
Through the first two innings, the game was in control of the pitchers with no runs scored by either team.
However, the Akron offense began to heat up in the top of the third inning, as the squad rallied for four runs in the inning. Cale Giddings and James Sheltrown notched back-to-back singles against the Chippewas, and were quickly driven in by Joey Havrilak on a two-run double to left center to give the Zips the first lead of the game, 2-0.
Shortstop Matt Rembielak followed Havrilak with a walk to put runners on first and second with one out. Havrilak then scored on a throwing error by the CMU shortstop, which also allowed Rembielak to reach third base.
The final run of the four-run rally came from Rembielak stealing home, giving the Zips a 4-0 advantage after the third inning. Rembielak has four stolen bases this season.
"Our offense produced a big inning in the third inning to begin three straight innings of runs, and swung well all day," Head Coach Rembielak said Saturday. "Balls were hit hard by a lot of the guys."
UA followed up the four-run performance in the third with two runs in the fourth. Freshman Cale Giddings ripped his first collegiate homer, a two-run blast, to put the Zips up by six runs. Junior Brady Stewart scored on the homerun.
Akron plated one run in the fifth to make it three straight innings with at least one run. Senior Jared Turocy roped an RBI single through the right side to score Ahart and give UA a 7-0 lead over CMU. Turocy extended his consecutive game hit streak to 17 games this season.
The Zips offense went scoreless for the next two innings. Akron added a run in the eighth inning, when Giddings unloaded on his second homer of the day, a solo shot to left field. Giddings finished the afternoon 3-for-4 with two homeruns, three runs scored, and three RBI.
"Giddings obviously swung well with two home runs, which was great to see," Rembielak said. "Havrilak did extremely well also after being cleared to play after getting hit in the helmet during Tuesday's game. His swing looked good all day after struggling the last few games."
With the Zips on top of the Chippewas by a score of 8-0, Akron rallied for three more runs in the top of the ninth. Rembielak notched his first RBI of the game on a sac fly, while Turocy recorded his second RBI hit of the game, this time a double. LaRocca scored the final run for the Zips on a wild pitch, giving the Zips a 11-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The Chippewas tagged two runs to Valek in the ninth on two sacrifice flies. Daulton Mosbarger came in and shut the door with 0.2 scoreless innings pitched in relief of Valek.
Akron totaled 11 hits in the 11-2 win over Central Michigan. Leading the mob in hits were Havrilak and Giddings with three hits each. Havrilak finished the game with two RBI as well.
The Zips and Chippewas will wrap up the three game series on Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m., scheduled first pitch. Freshman Michael Steensen is the probable pitcher for UA.