The game-tying run was sitting on second base, but this time it just wasn’t in the cards for the Miami University RedHawks.
“It was a rough day and we had a chance at the end,” shortstop Ryan Kaup said. “We just needed a couple more big hits. It (Tuesday) was exciting. It was definitely an incredible comeback but we would have liked to have won it again today to take home the tourney but it wasn’t to be.”
A day after the RedHawks (15-17) climbed back into a contest in the ninth inning and managed a win against the Xavier University Musketeers, they were set to take on the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (17-14) for the Joe Nuxhall Classic tournament title.
The Red and White went behind early and didn’t make a spark until the late innings once again, but the Bearcats stayed composed and pulled off a 3-2 victory.
“There was a lot of emotion and we were really ready and looking forward to today,” Head Coach Dan Simonds said. “We were competing against a pretty solid team. We probably need to do some things better. Even in that first inning with walking the amount of guys we did. I thought we pitched it after that fairly well.”
The Queen City foes would have made ‘the old left-hander’ proud. Bearcat pitchers only spotted the RedHawks one run on eight punch-outs and only walked two batters.
Simonds’ team went down early on an RBI single in the first inning as the Bearcats smelt blood before piling on two more runs in the fourth and fifth innings, until Kaup came to the plate and connected for his first homerun as a RedHawk. Kaup colossal shot darted over the left field fence and made the score 3-1 Bearcats.
“It was a full count and I was making sure to protect and put it in play,” Kaup said. “It was kind of a surprise I hit it out really. I was just trying to get on base.”
After Kaup’s solo blast, the Red and White wouldn’t rally until desperation time — the ninth inning. RedHawk relievers would not allow another run over the final four frames and would leave it up to the lumber.
With one out, senior Zak Hatfield connected on a pitch to center and the Bearcat’s booted the fly ball, allowing him to stand on second safely. Kaup returned to the batter’s box and added a base knock to his stat line and Hatfield scampered to third base. Center fielder Ryan Curl stepped to the plate and slapped a pitch into the infield and it looked as though the game would end on a double play, but Curl sped to first and collected a fielder’s choice RBI and got the Red and White to within one run of knotting up the game.
After an intentional walk and a wild pitch, the Red and White had runners on first and second with two outs and only second baseman Jon Edgington stood in the way. As RedHawk fans rose to the occasion with aspirations of déjà-vu, Bearcat closer Ander Burkett forced Edgington to ground out to the shortstop and the RedHawk rally wrecked.
“We’ve played good teams in the MAC (Mid-American Conference) and it’s going to come down to how well Miami plays,” Simonds said. “That’s what it comes down to. If we can swing the bats like I know we are able to, and certainly with our pitching and our strong bullpen, we are going to be right in the thick of it when it’s all said and done.”
Kaup and first baseman Kyle Weldon each went 2-4 for the Red and White.
The RedHawks return to MAC play at 3 p.m. Friday against Western Michigan University, April 16 in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Red and White battle the Broncos three times before returning to Oxford Tuesday, April 20 to take on the Indian University Hoosiers.