Courtesy of an offensive explosion at the plate, Miami baseball (13-23) defeated La Salle University (6-27) of the Atlantic-10 conference in sweeping fashion. The RedHawks were at home over Easter Weekend and won by scores of 3-2, 15-2 and 7-1, respectively.
In what was their fifth-straight win and the longest winning streak of the season, the RedHawks have swept their past two opponents — Dayton and La Salle.
Most recently against the Explorers, the ‘Hawks benefitted from an offensive eruption, outscoring the visitors 25-5. Offense has been a factor to their form of late, with the Red and White averaging nine runs per contest over the past five games.
Production at the dish often leads to success, and MU is reaping the rewards. While the series saw Miami rout LSU in the latter two affairs, the first matchup between the nonconference foes was anything but a blowout.
Sporting their cream-colored throwback uniforms, the RedHawks got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning as sophomore catcher Hayden Senger flew out to right field to give the ‘Hawks an early 1-0 advantage.
This lead wouldn’t last long and in the top of the third, La Salle turned the game into a 1-1 stalemate thanks to timely hitting from shortstop Austin Constantini. The junior hit a single to right field to plate home one and tie the game.
The two sides were deadlocked until Constantini came up to bat again. In his second at-bat, Constantini smacked a double through the left side to catalyze the Explorers’ offense. With two outs, he would score the go-ahead run as freshman first baseman Ben Faso singled to center field to give LSU a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth.
With optimism dwindling and Miami needing a hero, manager Danny Hayden found one in centerfielder Dallas Hall in the bottom of the seventh.
“For Dallas to come up with the big hit, there, was awesome,” Hayden said. “You know, not a guy to think of as a power-hitter necessarily, but to jump all over a first pitch and get one out of here was really big.”
The sophomore right-handed hitter turned on a pitch from La Salle freshman right-hander James Blake and deposited it past the left field fence. It was good for a one-out, go-ahead, two-run home run that would give the ‘Hawks a lead.
It was a deficit that would prove to be too much for the Explorers, as the Red and White saw it through to victory, giving them a 3-2 series-opening win.
On Saturday, the two teams played a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. The matinee game saw Miami produce their second-largest run output of the campaign.
In what can only be defined as a blowout, the ‘Hawks punished the Explorers by a lopsided score of 15-2. The contest was essentially over by the bottom of the fourth inning.
MU jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, with freshman second baseman Landon Stephens doubling to left field to kick off the scoring.
Errors plagued LSU, as the Philadelphia-based program committed two in the first frame and four in the game.
While the Explorers played clean baseball in the next inning, mistakes were made on the mound. Miami teed off on Redshirt senior starting pitcher Luke Reilly, as the lefty gave up five runs in the second frame. Seven runs in six outs would prove to be too much, spelling his demise for the afternoon.
Putting the game out of reach for La Salle and sealing the victory for the RedHawks, was the combination of senior left fielder Tyler Harris and Redshirt junior first baseman Ross Haffey. Harris homered to lead off the bottom of the fourth, while Haffey tripled to right field to put the final nails in the coffin for LSU.
Erroneous play would come back to haunt La Salle in this inning, as well. The ball club committed their other two errors, helping the Red and White get out to a 10-0 lead before the game was halfway done.
Sophomore left-hander Zach Spears tossed six innings for Miami, giving up their only two runs — all unearned. His efforts kept the Explorers in check at the plate, as the ‘Hawks routed La Salle for a 15-2 win which clinched their second consecutive series win.
“That was awesome, for Zach Spears. To do what he did in the first game, I mean, he was dominant. He wasn’t good — he was dominating those guys,” Hayden said. “So that was really good to see out of him. He really needed a start like that.”
The evening matchup of the doubleheader between the sides was met with a similar outcome, but the latter contest saw a different start. In a turn-of-events, La Salle struck first.
Junior right fielder Rafael Amanau hit a one-out triple to set up the three-hole hitter, third baseman Kevin McGowan. The sophomore found a gap towards the shortstop to single home Amanau and give LSU an early 1-0 lead.
Despite driving home the first run, it would be the only time an Explorers’ player would cross home plate.
The RedHawks scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the second when Harris laid down a bunt back to the pitcher to score junior shortstop Carlos Texidor, making the score 2-1.
While he gave up a run in the first, Miami’s freshman right-hander Grant Hartwig pitched 6.1 innings while striking out five. Behind his stellar pitching, the ‘Hawks would go on to complete the three-game sweep over the Explorers.
Up next for Miami is the ninth rendition of the Joe Nuxhall Classic — a tournament featuring the best college baseball teams in the Cincinnati area.
“We got to win the Nuxhall Classic,” Hayden said. “I haven’t won it since I’ve been here. We’ve got two big games this midweek to focus on. We got to try to do everything we can do to win Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Their first opponent of the Joe Nuxhall Classic is Wright State University at Marge Schott Field, a neutral site. First pitch scheduled for Tuesday, April 18 at 3:00 p.m.