Any optimism from Miami baseball following their first series win last weekend, was quickly extinguished courtesy of the University of Kentucky’s offensive explosion. The series saw the Wildcats out-score the RedHawks 36-9 on the road. The ‘Cats (11-6) swept the ‘Hawks (3-10) in the three-game set by scores of 6-4, 16-3 and 14-2.
MU is in the midst of their worst 13 game start since they posted a 2-11 record to begin the 2014-15 campaign. The offense fired blanks — only hitting 15 versus UK’s 39 hits. Sophomore center fielder Dallas Hall and Redshirt junior first baseman Ross Haffey were the series’ only bright spots.
The outfield-infield pair was responsible for driving in four of the RedHawks’ nine runs, going four-for-22 with one double and home run, for their troubles.
Kentucky set the tone of the three game set early in the first contest, sprinting to put up three runs in the first inning and two runs in the second inning. Four different Wildcats contributed with RBI’s that led to the five-run outburst to kick-start the festivities, putting the RedHawks in their fifth deficit of at least five runs.
Despite being down 5-0, the ‘Hawks displayed a sense of resiliency. They managed to cut the deficit to one thanks to a four-run top of the third that was catalyzed by Haffey’s two-run single to center field. Redshirt senior third baseman Adam Yacek and junior outfielder Brooks Urich helped the comeback’s cause with an RBI sacrifice fly and a single to center field, respectively.
Starting pitcher for the ‘Hawks, Cole Gnetz, was on the losing end of the scorecard pushing his record to 0-3 on the year. The sophomore only lasted 1.1 innings as the right-hander was battered by five runs on four hits.
Leading the way for UK hitting-wise, in the pivotal opening game was left fielder Zach Reks. The senior had an RBI single in the bottom of the first and second innings — the two innings that Kentucky scored — singling down the right side and center field to ignite the offense.
Despite the statistical discrepancies coming into the matchup, game one turned out to be a close 6-4. One might infer that the sandwich contest would shape up to be similar.
And for the first three innings, that notion would stand to be true, as the two teams were both tied at 0-0. This idea still manage to hold its weight when — following a three-run bottom of the fourth, in large part to a two-run homerun to left center field by senior first baseman Gunnar McNeill — the ‘Hawks scored in the top of the fifth and sixth innings to cut the deficit to one.
Yet once the bottom of sixth rolled around, the script flipped and what followed was nothing short of catastrophic for the Red and White.
The ‘Cats senior shortstop Connor Heady started the proceedings with an RBI single to center field to make the score 4-2. For the RedHawks, this was the tip of the iceberg. With Kentucky’s hitting operating at frightening efficiency, head coach Nick Mingione’s squad piled on six more runs to make the score 10-2 through the sixth inning.
Miami was able to chip away at the deficit in the top of the seventh, putting the score at 10-3. But all hope was lost following a six-run bottom of the seventh inning that put the middle game in its final resting place of 16-3. The win clinched the series for the ‘Cats in the process.
Six pitchers took the mound for MU in the second game. The most effective was sophomore starting pitcher Zach Spears. The lefty was responsible for five of the 16 runs, pitched 5.1 innings, struck out seven and moved his record to 1-3 on the year.
Looking to bounce back from the debacle that was the middle game, the RedHawks looked ready to come out of Lexington, KY with a win in the ultimate affair. Thanks to a nine run blitz by UK over the first five innings — in which they scored in every inning — this proved to be too great a challenge to overcome.
The majority of the damage done by the Wildcats came over the course of the first three innings when they erupted for three home runs. Kentucky scored in every inning, except for the bottom of the sixth. Miami, on the other hand, scored its only two runs in the 14-2 blowout when Hall hammered to left field for his first home run of the season.
Senior starting pitcher for MU Brad Schwartz dropped his previously flawless record to 1-1, giving up nine hits, and eight of the 14 runs in four innings pitched.
The University of Cincinnati will play host to the RedHawks the next time they do battle. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday.