Miami’s bats ran wild over Bowling Green this weekend, leading the RedHawks to a series win at home and allowing them to stay undefeated in Mid-American Conference series.
The ‘Hawks (17-10, 6-3 MAC) won a 7-0 shutout in the series opener on Friday. Bowling Green responded with a 10-9 Game Two victory, before Miami took Sunday’s rubber match 8-5.
“It’s always good to get a series win in the MAC,” junior catcher Hayden Senger said. “It’s huge in getting into the MAC Tournament.”
Miami made quick work of the Falcons (9-21, 4-5 MAC) in the series opener Friday, picking up a 7-0 win in just over two and a half hours.
Sophomore Spencer Mraz (W, 3-0) got the start for Danny Hayden’s RedHawks and delivered a career-high seven shutout innings, while allowing only four hits. He displayed excellent command by striking out four hitters and not handing out any walks. The effort allowed Mraz to pick up his third win of the season.
“I felt great,” Mraz said. “My main focus was just to go out there with the intent to throw strikes and not think about mechanics — just go out there and throw the ball. That’s about it.”
Mraz was helped out early, as freshman center fielder Parker Massman drove in a run with an RBI single to make it 1-0 MU in the first inning.
Massman hit another RBI single in his next at-bat to give the RedHawks a 2-0 third-inning lead.
“I’m happy [Massman] is with us,” MU head coach Danny Hayden said. “I’m happy every time he comes to the plate because he gives us a good at-bat about 100 percent of the time, right now.”
Both teams were held scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning. A pair of RBI singles — the first from senior shortstop Adrian Texidor and the second from Redshirt senior first baseman Ross Haffey — doubled the RedHawks’ advantage to 4-0.
After Mraz retired the side in order during the top of the seventh, Miami pounced, scoring three more runs to push its lead to seven.
Miami’s bullpen held strong the rest of the way, maintaining the shutout and preserving a 7-0 series-opening win for the RedHawks.
“Our guys came out ready to go today,” Hayden said on Friday. “I thought that, even from BP, our guys were locked in.”
The Falcons’ offense woke up in time for Game Two on Saturday, rallying for 10 runs — including three in the top of the ninth inning — to take a series-tying 10-9 win.
Bowling Green scored first, when a ground-ball double-play allowed for a runner to cross home plate in the top of the third inning.
Falling behind 1-0 seemed to strike a chord with Miami, as the RedHawks responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to take their first lead of the contest.
Haffey provided the first MU run, when he drove in Redshirt sophomore left fielder Kyle Winkler with an RBI single up the middle. After an RBI single from sophomore third baseman Landon Stephens drove in a run and sent Haffey to third, Senger plated Haffey with a sacrifice fly. Massman ripped a double down the left-field line to score Stephens and give the RedHawks a 4-1 advantage.
Just an inning later, Stephens drove in two more runs with a two-out single into left field to make it 6-1.
Bowling Green stayed within striking distance by adding two runs in the top of the fifth to cut its deficit to 6-3.
The teams continued to trade blows, as Miami eked out another run in the bottom half of the fifth. With two outs and Massman on third, Texidor legged out an infield single allowing Massman to score.
BG tied the game at seven in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs on an RBI double, an RBI single, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly.
After two scoreless innings, Miami retook the lead in the bottom of the eighth. The ‘Hawks started the inning by drawing two quick walks. Bowling Green almost battled out of the jam, gaining two consecutive outs, but Senger drew a walk to load the bases.
Then, Massman delivered again, lacing a two-run single into right field to put MU up 9-7.
Leading by two in the top of the ninth, the wheels fell off for the Miami bullpen. RedHawk pitchers combined for three walks in five batters with the bases loaded to gift the Falcons a 10-9 lead.
Bowling Green held Miami in check in the bottom half of the ninth to escape with a 10-9 victory.
Junior reliever Michael Hendricks (L, 1-2) was tagged with the loss after giving up three earned runs — the final three BG scored.
After Saturday’s heartbreaking loss, the RedHawks rebounded on Sunday, utilizing eight runs of offense and solid pitching to earn an 8-5 series-clinching win.
It was a pitchers’ duel early, as neither side could break through in the first two and a half innings.
Senior Gus Graham (W, 2-0) made just his second start of the season for the RedHawks, but hurled 5.2 innings of three-run baseball to pick up the win.
“Gus was awesome today,” Hayden said. “I bet he was frustrated when he came out of the game because he had some really good stuff going today. He never really lost it. They had a couple cheap hits — infield hits — that forced our hand a little bit, but Gus was really good today.”
The RedHawks grabbed the first lead of the ballgame in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI single by Stephens.
Miami had a huge frame just one inning later, plating five runs to take a 6-0 advantage. It was a lack of control from Bowling Green’s pitching staff, rather than a string of hits, that allowed Miami to score five runs – four of those runs came by way of a walk or a hit-by-pitch.
Junior reliever Daniel Buratto came in and calmed the storm for the Falcons, pitching 2.2 innings while not allowing a run. Miami hitters had trouble adjusting to Buratto’s breaking ball — a pitch that routinely appeared in the mid-to-high 60s on the radar gun.
With Buratto taking care of the Red and White offense, Bowling Green jumped back into the game, scoring two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and two more in the seventh to trim its deficit to 6-5.
“Kind of reminded me a little bit of yesterday,” Haffey said. “Maybe a little complacency, but I think we kind of dialed it in a couple innings after and put two more on the board. I think we, as a team, were like, ‘we’re not letting this happen again’ and found a way to get back to what we were doing earlier.”
Miami added two runs of insurance with two down in the bottom of the eighth. The first run was the result of an RBI double by junior right fielder Dallas Hall, while the second was driven in on a single by Stephens to make it 8-5.
After some trouble in the seventh, junior reliever Shane Smith settled in nicely for the RedHawks, tossing two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth to hold off BG for the series win.
Smith was credited with his first save of the season.
“After a tough one [Saturday], it was definitely good to come out and get this win,” Haffey said. “I wouldn’t say everything was perfect, but just finding a way to win was definitely the biggest thing. To come out of a conference series winning is always big.”
Following the series victory, Miami is now first in the MAC standings.
Massman finished with a .667 batting average for the series, while also driving in six runs to win MAC Co-Player of the Week.
The RedHawks will now turn their attention to the annual Joe Nuxhall Classic Tournament, where they will compete with Cincinnati, Wright State and Xavier for local bragging rights. Miami won the event for the first time last season.
In a rematch of last year’s championship game, Miami will host the Xavier Musketeers (11-19) in a first-round matchup at Hayden Park on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.