As the radar gun consistently skimmed into the upper 90s Sunday, Miami University pitcher Tyler Melling could only watch from the dugout and try to forget when his turn on the mound arrived.
The RedHawks faced one of the top pitchers in the country, University of Kentucky’s Alex Meyer, and it was Melling’s task to oppose the flamethrower.
Meyer’s arm appeared to be a slingshot, pelting pitch after pitch past late RedHawk swings.
The 6-feet-9-inches tall right-hander finished with 13 strikeouts, but the ‘Hawks came through in the late innings to snatch a 3-1 victory.
“Great pitching effort out of Tyler Melling to beat one of the best pitchers in the country,” Head Coach Dan Simonds said. “That’s one of the better guys we will face all year. Anytime you are able to do that, manufacture runs and stay in the game, it is good to see. We were ready to fight.”
The RedHawks (1-2) had fallen to Marshall University and the College of Charleston prior to the final battle with the Wildcats (0-3), wrapping up the College of Charleston Invitational.
Sunday started scoreless until senior Brad Gschwind smacked a single and was moved over to second on a sacrifice play.
Senior Jon Edgington stepped into the batter’s box and laced a baseball through the middle of the infield, prompting Gschwind to dash to home plate and make the score 1-0.
The Wildcats gave their ace a chance at a victory in the fourth inning when a leadoff triple put a runner in scoring position. A wild pitch by Melling advanced the runner home and tied the game.
Simonds used small ball again in the seventh inning after senior Kyle Weldon was walked in the leadoff spot. A sacrifice play put Weldon at second before senior Ryan Kaup singled through the left side to give the Red and White a 2-1 lead.
Solid defense in the bottom of the inning secured the RedHawks’ lead, and the ‘Hawks scored on a wild pitch in the eighth frame to earn the victory.
“I don’t know if satisfied is the right word,” Simonds said. “Two out of three or sweeping is what we were looking to do. I certainly saw some good things. We played very well against the College of Charleston, which was a good team. To bounce back the way we did against Kentucky, that was nice to see.”
What was also nice for the coach to see from the dugout was the performance of his southpaw starter.
Melling managed just two hits and one earned run in six innings on the mound.
“It’s huge to get that first win,” Melling said. “It’s a big monkey off of your back. Sometimes you go out there and press to get that first one, but when you’re a senior you’ve kind of been through it a couple of times and you just go out there and do your best and let things fall the way they do.”
Meyer was named one of three Louisville Slugger National Players of the Week for the performance.
Senior Sam Dawes earned the save for the RedHawks after pitching two innings of one-hit, scoreless baseball.
Kaup was 2-4 with an RBI for a RedHawks team that won despite a 0.206 team batting average.