After starting their young campaign with a disappointing 0-7 mark, the RedHawks (3-7) found themselves victorious for the first time. They swept Illinois State University (2-7) at home by scores of 8-7, 8-6 and 9-4.
Third baseman Adam Yacek, led MU’s onslaught at the plate. The Redshirt senior was named Mid-American Conference East Division East Player of the Week, going 5-for-11, driving in four runs, two doubles and one home run, in the process.
“I feel good for our guys because I think when you start out as poorly as we did, it’s easy to let some of those questions get in your head, ‘What’re we doing wrong?’ and ‘Are we preparing the right way?’” head coach Danny Hayden said. “Whether we’re not — preparing the right-or-wrong way — we can debate. But I know it’s not due to a lack of work from our guys.”
Game one was an affair filled with mistakes as both teams combined for seven errors. ISU got on the board first in the top of the second, following MU’s sophomore pitcher Cole Gnetz’s plunking of the Redbirds’ sophomore infielder Owen Miller giving them a one run advantage. This lead was quickly erased as Miami poured it on in the bottom half of the frame for four runs.
Illinois State would answer quickly, scoring three runs in the top of third to put the game at a stalemate. In the bottom of the third, the Red and White were firing on all cylinders to score four more runs, giving them an 8-4 edge that — despite giving up three more runs for an 8-7 final — they would not relinquish.
At the plate for MU, it was the efforts of sophomore catcher Hayden Senger and senior second baseman Steve Sada that helped push the team to victory. The duo combined to go four for nine, driving in four runs.
Miami finally had their first win of the season, but they had to play in a Sunday doubleheader. The last time this happened the ‘Hawks were swept against the University of South Florida. This time, the ‘Hawks struck first.
The three-run first inning was spearheaded by a Yacek double to left center that drove home two. An RBI single to left field by senior designated hitter Tyler Harris made the game 3-0 after one inning.
While the pitching in the first contest of the doubleheader was shaky the bats finally woke up for the RedHawks.
“That was as clean a game, offensively, where we executed the things that we needed to execute and I think the guys were locked in from the approach standpoint in both games of the doubleheader,” Coach Hayden said.
Illinois State, despite being down 6-0, made a game of it — scoring four runs in the top of the fifth off the bats of junior catcher Collin Braithwaite via a three run triple, and a sac fly by Redshirt sophomore infielder Derek Parola.
Sophomore pitcher Zach Spears held on to win the game 8-6 for Miami, even though the left-hander gave up four runs in the afternoon.
“Zach Spears was really good in game one. He had a really rough fifth inning where he gives up one hit, three, or four runs that inning,” Hayden said. “Which was really frustrating because his line for that day — that’s as good as he’s looked.”
Winning game one of the doubleheaders clinched a series win for the ‘Hawks, but they weren’t done. The Red and White scoring all nine of their runs in the first three innings, secured the series sweep in the ultimate game with a 9-4 exclamation point.
Helping contribute to the nine run blitz offensively, was shortstop Carlos Texidor. The junior went 2-for-4 in the latter affair, driving in as many runs as Illinois State scored — four, thanks to a second inning RBI single and a three run triple down the right field line in the third inning.
“We didn’t score after the third inning in the second game today. We have to clean that up,” Hayden said.
On the mound, Brad Schwartz was spinning a gem. The senior right-hander pitched five innings, giving up three runs while striking out and walking four ISU hitters.
“I think Brad game two, he didn’t have as good of stuff he had a week ago, but he was competitive. He really competed,” Hayden said.
The next time the ‘Hawks take the field, they do battle in a three game series on the road against the University of Kentucky. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Friday.