The last time the Miami baseball team (29-16, 13-8 Mid-American) played Ball State, the two teams combined for 59 runs over a three-game display of offensive firepower in Muncie, Indiana.
That wasn’t the case when the Cardinals (26-21, 13-8 MAC) came to Oxford on Tuesday, as the RedHawks grinded out a 5-3 win. The loss snapped Ball State’s seven-game winning streak.
“Offensively, there were a lot of things to like,” MU head coach Danny Hayden said. “There were a couple innings where we had some guys in scoring position and didn’t get the big hit, but if you put pressure on them every inning, you’re going to give yourself a chance to get that big hit. We got a couple today.”
Miami got the action started in the first when sophomore third baseman Landon Stephens doubled to left. He scored when the next batter, Redshirt sophomore left fielder Kyle Winkler, singled to give the ‘Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Ball State was quick to respond in the top of the second. After MU’s Redshirt freshman starter Jay Wilson allowed a hit-by-pitch and a base-on-balls to the first two Cardinal batters, junior first baseman John Ricotta drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to center field that tied the game at one.
Junior outfielder Dallas Hall broke the tie during the next half-inning with a solo home run over the left-center field wall.
Hayden was pleased to see Hall display his power. Hall has been battling a massive slump lately — one that’s caused his batting average to drop from the .290s to .253 over the last month.
“It was awesome to see Dallas get one out of here,” Hayden said. “He’s a kid who had some pop in his bat last year and got all of that one. That one was crushed.”
Following a scoreless third inning from both teams, the RedHawks played add-on in the bottom of the fourth as a single from Redshirt senior catcher Spencer Dull plated Hall from second base.
Freshman designated hitter Cristian Tejada padded the lead a couple batters later with a two-run single to right field. The hit scored Redshirt junior first baseman TJ Galenti and Dull to push the score to 5-1 MU.
Sophomore shortstop Noah Powell hit a two-run bomb that barely stayed inside the foul pole to help Ball State cut into its deficit in the top of the fifth. The homer made it 5-3 MU and would prove to be the final score for either side in the ballgame.
After surrendering Powell’s home run, Wilson finished the fifth without another blemish and would turn the game over to the bullpen to start the top of the sixth. Overall, Wilson pitched five innings and allowed three runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out three batters.
“[Wilson’s start] was good,” Hayden said. “Jay is probably frustrated. I know he’d like to have that one pitch back (Powell’s home run) and then a couple walks that Jay didn’t need to have. But I like the way the ball comes out of Jay’s hand. He’s a competitive kid. I don’t think it was his best start by any stretch, but he certainly gave us a good start and an opportunity to win a ballgame.”
The bullpens of both Miami and Ball State excelled for the remainder of the game.
The RedHawks used three relievers to pitch the final four innings. Juniors Michael Hendricks, Cole Gnetz and Jack Corbell shut down the Cardinal offense, holding it scoreless. The trio surrendered two hits and walked three.
After sophomore Lukas Jaksich was taken out, the Cardinals turned to freshman Cody Freed, who tossed 4.2 innings. He gave up three hits and two walks, while not giving up an earned run. He served up the two-run single to Dull, but Jaksich was responsible for both runners that scored.
Corbell picked up a two-inning save and locked up a 5-3 Miami win.
Wilson (W, 2-1) earned his second win of the season for his efforts, while Jaksich (L, 0-2) was tagged with the loss.
Hayden scripted an unusual MU lineup as Redshirt senior first baseman Ross Haffey, senior shortstop Adrian Texidor, junior catcher Hayden Senger and freshman center fielder Parker Massman all received the day off.
In their places were Galenti, sophomore Will Vogelgesang (who shifted over from his usual second base position), Dull and Hall, respectively. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Stephens started at second base.
The win was the RedHawks’ sixth in their last seven games. It was also the 16th victory of the season at Hayden Park — Miami’s most since 2010 when it won 17 home games.
A late-season scheduling oddity, this game was officially a non-conference matchup, despite Miami and Ball State both being in the Mid-American Conference.
The RedHawks will stay in Oxford to host Central Michigan this weekend. Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. start-time on Saturday and a 1 p.m. start-time on Sunday.