On the heels of a seven-game win streak, the Miami baseball team (16-25) was brimming with confidence entering their most recent series against Ohio University (19-20). Their recent form has taken a hit, as they lost two of three in Athens by scores 9-5 and 3-2, winning the middle game 3-1.
Still without a Mid-American Conference series victory, the ‘Hawks lost their fourth three-game MAC set of the season. This sees the Red and White maintain their fifth place spot in the East Division with a 3-9 record. OU moves up to second place in the East, boasting a 5-7 conference mark.
To start the first game, it was MU that kept rolling. Redshirt junior first baseman Ross Haffey flew out to left field, driving home senior left fielder Tyler Harris for the sacrifice fly. But this opening one-run advantage would be short lived. At the plate, Harris finished 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the top of the third.
In the bottom of the first, the Bobcats would get a leadoff home run from their offensive leader — senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra. Two hits followed, but the runners were stranded as the scoring chance was neutralized for the time being.
This was only the beginning for Ohio. The hosts had 16 hits in the opener and scored four runs over the next three innings. Junior left fielder Evan Bourn, accounting for half of the offensive production in this span, hit two solo shots in the bottom of the second and the fourth innings.
Showing their resilience, Miami overcame this 5-2 deficit by scoring three runs in the next two innings. Freshman Cal Elvers knotted up the scored in the top of the fifth. The right fielder’s RBI plated home two RedHawks to keep pace with the Green and White.
The Bobcats would push the pace to the ‘Hawks’ breaking point, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings to put away the RedHawks 9-5. This ended the Red and White’s seven-game winning streak.
The second game would be telling to whether or not the RedHawks would win their first MAC series and would be a closer affair.
After two innings of back-and-forth baseball between the two sides, Trautwein Field’s crowd of 471 were treated to offensive baseball in the top of third inning. That’s when Miami’s second baseman Landon Stephens stepped up to the plate.
With the bases loaded, the freshman slapped a one-out single to left field to score two runners, giving the ‘Hawks a 2-0 advantage in the early-goings.
Sophomore centerfielder Dallas Hall, the next batter for MU, would fly out to left field — scoring one for the sacrifice fly. Just like that, Miami had a 3-0 lead after three innings. This would be all the offense necessary, as the ‘Hawks would see this score until the end.
Winning 3-1, the only run the RedHawks gave up came from an RBI groundout. This came off the bat of OU senior shortstop Tyler Finkler. Zach Spears, the sophomore starting pitcher for the Red and White, tossed six innings, struck out seven, with Finkler’s one run as the only blemish on his record.
The tie-breaking third game between the two bitter rivals culminated in the ultimate matinee — it lived up to the billing.
Ohio got on the board first, scoring two runs in the bottom of the third behind the exploits of Ibarra. The offensive catalyst pushed a double down the left field line, advanced on a fielder’s choice and scored from third on a throwing error.
Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott followed suit for OU, doubling to left field to make the score 2-0 after three innings. One inning of solace would follow for both programs before the Red and White would answer the call.
MU’s Tyler Harris, filling the designated hitter role, evened the score with a two-run double to right center field. With the game now tied, Miami was on the cusp of their first MAC series victory.
A throwing error in the bottom of the fifth would give OU a 3-2 lead they would not give up. Senior second baseman Ty Black was the Bobcat that scored the decisive run.
Outside of a one-game, Tuesday meeting at home at 6 p.m. against Morehead State University, the RedHawks take the field for another MAC series this weekend. The ‘Hawks will play visitors to Bowling Green starting at 3:05 p.m. on Friday.