After a third place finish in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division, the Miami University baseball team nearly pulled off an improbable run in the MAC Tournament. The Red and White won the first two games of the tournament before falling only one game short of a finals matchup versus College World Series qualifier Kent State University.
“We were disappointed with where we are in the conference,” Head Coach Dan Simonds said. “We made a good run in the MAC Tournament. I was glad to see us take the first two games and (we) played well in the third game as well.”
The RedHawks opened the MAC Tournament with a dominant pitching performance by senior Shawn Marquardt in a 5-0 victory. Marquardt gave up only five hits in his fifth complete game of the year.
Miami followed up its first game with a 2-1 defeat of Eastern Michigan University in extras thanks to a great performance by junior starter Mac Thoreson. Thoreson pitched nine innings of two hit ball with zero earned runs. He gave way in the 10th to senior closer Matt Rosinski, who picked up the save.
The ‘Hawks lost two straight games to Central Michigan University, needing only one victory to advance to the MAC finals. They dropped the first game in an 11-10 heartbreaker, despite senior outfielder Bryce Redeker and junior first baseman Kevin Bower combining to go 5-8 with three RBIs. They each walked once and scored twice as well.
The season ended with a 7-0 defeat with the RedHawks only able to muster six hits. However, in his final collegiate appearance Rosinski pitched 5.1 innings of one hit ball. He finishes his career with the second most appearances in Miami history and finished the year with a 2.14 ERA and 10 saves.
Two impressive starting pitchers in Marquardt and Thoreson led the RedHawks. Marquardt went 7-5 on the year with a 3.43 ERA and a team-leading 66 strikeouts. Thoreson went 7-3 with a 4.77 ERA and will be counted on to be the team’s ace again next year.
“Rosie [Matt Rosinski] and Marquardt had special years,” Simonds said. “Any time we gave them the ball they performed.”
Offensively, no one on the RedHawks had a bigger year than freshman All-American outfielder Matt Honchel. He led the team with a .395 batting average for the year with 10 stolen bases and 43 runs. Honchel also had a team leading .443 on-base percentage. He also led the MAC in hitting.
“If I had to name one guy [as top offensive player], Matt Honchel was a freshman All-American, and freshman of the year and led the league in hitting,” Simonds said. “He combines speed and power. He didn’t show much power but I promise you he has it and you’ll see it.”
Leadoff man, senior Ryan Brenner, played some second base and some outfield, and led the team with an impressive 20 stolen bases. He also scored a team leading 51 times while batting .291.
Bower and Redeker provided the power in the middle of the lineup with Redeker leading the team with four home runs with Bower chipping in three. Bower also batted .352 on the year and drove in a team leading 52 runs. Redeker scored 44 times, drove in 40 runs, stole 12 bases and had a .392 on-base percentage in his final collegiate season.
“Right now, the goals are to get down the basics and be the most fundamentally sound team,” Simonds said. “I think we’ll be in a better position. I expect the leadership to be better. Quite frankly, I wish the season would start now.”
The RedHawks will lose a lot of key players next year, including Rosinski, Redeker and Marquardt. They will have Thoreson, Bower and Honchel back next year. Those three, along with several other key contributors, form a solid nucleus.