No matter how long he stared at the statistics sheet, the numbers stayed static.
Coach Dan Simonds was the last man out of the dugout Sunday, April 3, after the Miami University baseball team fell to Ball State University 6-3 and slid to second place in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division.
Simonds sat at the end of the bench, in a shady corner, trying to find the areas to improve his ballclub before coming to the conclusion that his bats could have been better.
“That’s baseball,” Simonds said. “You get a guy that’s throwing the ball well, their first guy was a pretty good pitcher. It’s disappointing because I think we are better. Offensively we have to come around. Our pitching was certainly good enough to win the series … We just didn’t put enough innings together and we have to improve that way.”
The unpredictable weekend weather was a microcosm of the play on McKie Field at Hayden Park as the RedHawks (13-14, 4-2 MAC) were shut out by an ace arm Friday 2-0 and survived a slugfest 11-8 Saturday before surrendering Sunday’s skirmish and the series.
Cardinal lumber roughed up sophomore starter Brooks Fiala and freshman Seth Varner’s relief arm for four runs in the first three innings before the RedHawk offense could answer.
“We had some good at bats and we couldn’t really get down on ourselves or anything like that,” senior Kyle Weldon said.
Sophomore designated hitter Kevin Bower followed a Weldon single when he stepped to the plate in the fourth frame looking to touch all the bases. With two outs, Bower took a Cardinal offering and blasted it to the top of the right field fence, just missing a home run but bringing Weldon home from first to make the score 4-1. But Bower stayed stranded when the ‘Hawks ended the frame with just one run.
“We definitely could have threatened more offensively,” Simonds said. “To face a guy that way and not put more pressure on them offensively … we have to do a better job. We have to do a better job offensively and get better with some of the guys in the late part of our lineup.”
The Red and White were blanked in the next three innings before Weldon answered in the eighth. With one out, the senior belted a waist-high pitch over the center field fence for a solo home run. Junior right fielder Ryan Curl then hit an RBI single to close the inning down 5-3 to the men from Muncie. But the Cardinals (6-19, 4-2 MAC) plated all the insurance they needed with a ninth inning run and shut ‘Hawk bats down in the bottom of the inning.
“They applied pressure all weekend and that’s what you have to do to win,” Weldon said. “I thought we came out and hit well and pitched well all weekend long. We just need to keep working on those two things.”
The Red and White step out of conference to battle the Indiana University Hoosiers at home 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“We may give a couple guys some opportunities and see how they swing the bat,” Simonds said. “But we are going about it to win every game. We have some good pitching. The biggest thing is to get us ready for MAC play and we might need to see a few things and some other options that can contribute.”
Weldon hit homeruns Saturday and Sunday to give him a team leading six on the season. The senior is hitting .343 in cleanup duty with 105 at-bats and leads the lineup with 24 RBI, 62 total bases and a .590 slugging percentage. He hit .416 for the series with four RBI and three runs scored. Senior catcher Adam Weisenburger batted .400 with two RBI and four runs scored.
The bottom three hitters in the RedHawk lineup hit 3 for 31 (.096) with just three RBI.