Pitching, pitching, pitching. The three most important words in baseball rang true as the Miami University baseball team took two of three games from the then-Mid-American Conference East leading University of Akron in a weekend series.
“That’s the fourth week in a row we’ve had our starters doing a great job on the weekends,” head coach Danny Hayden said. “If we get that out of starters with the way our team is capable of swinging the bat, we’re going to be pretty darn good.”
Miami (12-17, 4-5 MAC) fell 7-5 in the opening game Friday against Akron (14-14, 6-3 MAC), despite a strong start from senior Seth Varner (4-1, 3.31 ERA), to extend its losing streak to seven games. However, the RedHawks bounced back Saturday thanks to a gem from junior Nathan Williams (2-4, 5.10 ERA), who pitched eight shutout innings in Miami’s 6-0 win. The ‘Hawks then took the rubber match 5-3 behind a strong outing from junior Ryan Powers (2-3, 4.82).
Varner went seven innings in the opening game, allowing eight hits, three earned runs while striking out eight and walking three. Varner received a no-decision for his effort, as the relief combination freshman Jacob Banks (1-0, 7.63 ERA) and sophomore Wynston McMartin (0-1, 5.52 ERA) combined to allow four earned runs and five walks in just 1 2-3 innings.
Williams was dominant in his start, allowing just four hits while striking out seven in eight shutout innings. The bats were strong as well, with senior third baseman Dan Walsh leading the way. Walsh went 4 for 5 with two RBIs. Junior catcher Max Andresen went 2 for 3 with an RBI and sophomore outfielder Chad Sedio went 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
“Max [Andresen] called a great game and my defense was working behind me,” Williams said. “I was just confident in all pitches and letting my defense make plays and letting the catcher call the game. I was just in a groove.”
Senior Charles Zubrod finished the game for Williams, as he pitched a perfect inning in a non-save situation.
“I was pretty pissed when Coach [Hayden] came out and pulled me,” Williams said. “He told me before the inning that I had to get a 1-2-3 inning or else I was coming out because my pitch count was up there a little bit. But I’m glad we just got the win.”
Powers went 7 1-3 innings in the 5-3 RedHawk rubber match victory, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out five. The RedHawks recorded just five hits in the game, but capitalized on their chances, including a pair of Akron errors in the sixth inning that led the three RedHawk runs.
“That’s the first game so far this year we found a way to win without hitting the ball a ton,” Hayden said. “Most of the times when we win it’s because we’ve got 13 or 14 hits. Today we got five, but we were able to get five runs on the board at the same. That was good for us.”
Zubrod finished the game for the second straight day, pitching a perfect 1 2-3 innings and picking up the save. The bullpen has struggled for much of the season for the RedHawks, posting an ERA of 6.89. Zubrod has been working as both a mid-week starter and reliever this season for the RedHawks. However, Hayden said other pitchers are going to need to step up.
“We’re being competitive in our bullpen right now…” Hayden said. “We don’t have roles for those guys right now because, quite honestly, no one’s stepped up and taken them. We’re trying figure out what our best options are. We don’t have a closer right now, we don’t have a set-up guy right now. It’s who do we feel best about that day. Hopefully we get some guys that come out of there. We’re going to need to use more guys than Zubrod to win games out of the bullpen. Hopefully when those guys get their opportunities, which are coming, they step up and take control of some roles for us.”
The RedHawks host the Joe Nuhxall Classic Tuesday and Wednesday at McKie Field at Hayden Park. Miami faces Xavier University Tuesday. The RedHawks lost to the Musketeers 6-5, as their comeback bid fell just short. The RedHawks face either the University of Cincinnati or Wright State University Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. for both games. Fans can listen to both games on redhawkradio.com/sports.