With a weekend sweep of Northern Kentucky, the Miami baseball team (11-3) secured its best start to a season since Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” topped the Billboard charts.
The RedHawks have to look back to 1983 for the last time they won 11 of their first 14 games. The sweep of the Norse (3-12) extends the ‘Hawks’ winning streak to nine.
“Winning is better than losing,” MU head coach Danny Hayden said. “But like we tell these guys, we’ve got a lot of goals we want to accomplish every day. No matter what we’ve done the last two, three, four, eight, 10, 15 games, it really doesn’t help us or hurt us going into the next day. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re showing up tomorrow with the right makeup and right approach to the day, so we can continue playing good baseball.”
The ‘Hawks eked out a tight 2-0 pitchers’ duel on Friday, before the offense got going and propelled them to a 10-2 Saturday win and a 11-9 extra-inning victory on Sunday.
Miami struck first in Game One when sophomore second baseman Will Vogelgesang scored on an NKU error in the third inning.
Sophomore Spencer Mraz (W, 2-0) got the start for the RedHawks and turned in five innings of shutout work. He struck out five, while only allowing one hit, to earn his second victory of the season.
With the score still stuck at 1-0, senior shortstop Carlos Adrian Texidor scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore designated hitter Landon Stephens to give the ‘Hawks a much-needed insurance run.
Miami’s bullpen held strong in relief of Mraz, blanking the Norse in the final four innings. Junior Andy Almquist closed out a 2-0 victory in the ninth to earn his third save of the season.
“I thought the pitchers were outstanding today,” Hayden said on Friday. “They did an awesome job. We had four guys on the mound today that all threw the ball really, really well. Defensively, we did a good job. Offensively, we left a lot to be desired in that game, but I’m really happy to get the win.”
The RedHawks didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard in the second game, scoring on a two-run home run by Redshirt senior Ross Haffey (3) in the first inning. The Red and White tacked on three more runs in the top of the second inning to jump out to an early 5-0 lead.
Miami scored at least one run in each of the first five innings.
Freshman right fielder Parker Massman launched his first-career home run (1) — a two-run shot to left field — to give Miami a 10-0 lead.
Junior lefty Zach Spears (W, 1-1) shutdown the NKU offense for the first five innings, before ceding two runs in the bottom of the sixth. In total, Spears pitched six innings of two-run baseball, allowing only three hits and striking out nine.
“Spears was awesome,” Hayden said. “His fastball command was awesome. I mean, nine strikeouts in six innings. He’s got really, really good stuff and when he’s in the strike zone that much, good luck.”
Miami subbed in some younger players during the later innings as the RedHawks got the 10-2 win.
After playing the first two games at Miami’s Hayden Park, the two teams made the hour-long trip to NKU’s Bill Aker Baseball Complex for Sunday’s series finale.
Miami, once again, came out hot offensively, torching the Norse for at least one run in each of the first four innings. After four, the RedHawks led 6-4.
Northern Kentucky scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to knot the game at six. The first run came on an RBI triple, while the second was scored on a wild pitch.
Landon Stephens scored on a wild pitch in the top half of the sixth to give Miami a 7-6 lead.
The score would remain 7-6 until Haffey jacked a two-run bomb — his second homer of the weekend and fourth of the season — to put the ‘Hawks up 9-6 in the top of the ninth.
Down to their final half-inning, the Norse weren’t done, hitting three consecutive RBI doubles to tie the score at nine and send the game to extras.
Miami didn’t wait long to respond, taking an 11-9 lead on a two-run single by senior left fielder Brooks Urich in the top of the tenth.
Junior pitcher Cole Gnetz pitched a perfect bottom of the tenth to earn his first save of the season and give Miami an 11-9 win.
Almquist was credited with his third win of the year, even after allowing Northern Kentucky to tie the game in the ninth.
The RedHawks return to action this afternoon at 3 p.m. when they host the Dayton Flyers (3-8) at Hayden Park.