MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Seth Varner turned in another quality start for the Miami baseball team, but Central Michigan scored six runs after he left the game to take game one, 8-4, on Saturday.
MU drops to 10-13 overall and 2-2 in the Mid-American Conference while CMU is 14-10 and 4-0 in MAC play.
“This was one of the weirder games I’ve been part of,” Miami head coach Danny Hayden said. “We played a pretty good game considering the field conditions were not good. Our pitchers did well, they didn’t hit the ball hard most of the game. I thought we played a good game, but they got some bounces and won. Seth was very good and it was unfortunate we couldn’t send him out for the seventh, but his pitch count was a little higher than it usually is. He still gave us another solid performance though.”
The RedHawks got on the board thanks to Ryan Elble’s RBI groundout in the top of the second. Scott Slappey scored the opening run as he led off the frame with a single, stole second and moved to third on John Crummy’s bunt.
CMU mounted a scoring threat in the third when it put runners at first and third with one out. Seth Varner locked himself in facing the top of the order, fanning both Nick and Logan Regnier to retire the side and keep MU’s 1-0 lead intact.
Matt Honchel provided Varner with some margin for error in the top of the fourth when his two-run single capped a two-out rally. John Crummy’s double and Elble’s single and steal set the table for Honchel’s clutch at-bat put the RedHawks on top 3-0.
The Chippewas got a run back in the bottom of the fourth on Adam Collins’ RBI double, but Varner prevented further damage by inducing consecutive fly outs to end the inning. Cody Leichman’s bases loaded walk in the fifth cut the RedHawks’ lead to 3-2.
Miami quelled the rally a bit when Steve Sada lofted an RBI single with two down in the sixth, putting the Red and White on top 4-2. Varner worked around a two-out single to hold the Chippewas scoreless in the bottom of frame to maintain the lead.
With Varner out of the game after six strong innings, the Chippewas got to the RedHawks’ bullpen for five runs in the bottom of the seventh. Both Nick and Logan Regnier singled to start the frame and after Brad Schwartz fanned Tyler Huntey, CMU notched consecutive singles by Leichman and Collins to score a run before Neal Jacobs’ two-run double gave the Chippewas their first lead of the day at 5-4. A suicide squeeze bunt by Alex Ornelas and an RBI single by Morgan Oliver capped the inning and put the RedHawks behind 7-4. An eighth-inning sacrifice fly by Leichman dug Miami into an 8-4 hole entering the ninth.
Varner left the game with a lead after allowing only two runs on four hits in six innings of work. He struck out seven batters while walking three. He did not factor in the decision after Central Michigan scored six runs in two innings on the Miami bullpen. The RedHawks got multi-hit games from both Crummy (2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored) and Sada (2-for-4 with an RBI).
The RedHawks and Chippewas close out their weekend series with a doubleheader on Sunday. First pitch of game one is at 11 a.m.