Filled with throwing errors, inning-killing base-running pickles and silent bats, Saturday and Sunday epitomized the slump Miami baseball has recently entered.
Last weekend’s mistakes removed the RedHawks from first place in the Mid-American Conference.
Miami was defeated by Northern Illinois, 6-3, on Saturday, prompting head coach Danny Hayden to give a short and sweet message to his team in preparation for Sunday: “Play better baseball.”
The RedHawks didn’t, losing 13-3.
They’ve lost six of their last eight games and sport a two-series losing streak for the first time since 2017. The other two losses during the dry spell have come against Cincinnati and Xavier, respectively.
“Right now, I think we’re getting frustrated rather than trying to play baseball as best we can,” Hayden said on Sunday afternoon. “That’s a result where, you squeeze the bat too tight, you squeeze the ball too tight, and things don’t go your way.”
Everything was going Miami’s way until two weeks ago. With a 29-6 record through the season’s first 35 contests, the team was off to the best start since the early 1970s.
But, since a three-game sweep of Bowling Green on April 12 and 13, Miami has stalled in the aspects at which it previously thrived.
In their six losses, the RedHawks have fallen by more than six runs per game, with 9.3-3 being the average margin.
That strays from their seasonal average of 7.4-5.1.
While their opponents during the slump aren’t devoid of talent, only two of the four hold records of .500 or better.
Miami hasn’t completely lost its magic, as it’s scored seven and 12 runs, respectively, in their two victories during the down stretch. It has only allowed five total runs in those wins, and all of them happened in the same game.
“We’ve just got to hit reset, get back to neutral and remember that we’re a really good team when we play the game a certain way,” Hayden said. “That needs to be the standard for us every day.”
With three weeks before the start of the MAC Tournament, there’s still time for the RedHawks to rediscover themselves. Their goal remains to win that title, but momentum going into the postseason is, often, key.
Last season, they scorched through May with an 8-3 record and came into the first round of the tourney fresh off a series victory over the first-place Kent State Golden Flashes. Miami advanced all the way to the finals, but Kent State got its revenge.
Currently, sitting third in the conference, the RedHawks have the chance to turn their performance around with two midweek games and a weekend set.
They travel to Xavier for a 3 p.m. contest this afternoon before returning home to face the Ohio State Buckeyes at 5 p.m. tomorrow.
This upcoming weekend series is this year’s first iteration of the Battle of the Bricks, with Miami playing at Ohio University.