OXFORD, Ohio – Seth Varner struck out a career-high 12 batters to deliver the Miami University baseball team a 1-0 win in Friday’s series opener with Toledo.
The RedHawks have won their last five games in Mid-American Conference play to move to 19-22 overall and 9-7 in the MAC.
Toledo (16-24, 7-9 MAC) drew a pair of walks to threaten in the first, but Varner eluded the runners on the corner jam by fanning Jacob North to end the frame. Miami put its first two runners on in the first, but a strikeout and a double play kept the game scoreless after one inning of play.
Varner got in a groove over the next two innings, retiring the side in order with five strikeouts in that span. The Red and White got on the board in the bottom of the third when Dan Walsh’s infield hit scored Scott Slappey from third with two away to give them a 1-0 lead.
After striking out the first batter of the fourth, his seventh punch out in the past eight hitters, the Rockets got an infield single from Dan Zuchowski for their first hit of the night. The senior lefty got the next two on a groundout and a strikeout to keep MU in front. The Red and White went down in order in the bottom of the fourth, but Varner sent them back to the plate quickly by striking out the side in the top of the fifth to give him 11 strikeouts at that point.
The Rockets threatened in the sixth when Tyler Grogg cued a double down the third base line with one out. Varner stranded the tying run all the same as Ryan Callahan’s line drive was run down by Slappey in left. Grogg tried to steal third base with two away, but a strong throw by Max Andresen cut him down and ended the frame.
While Miami picked up three hits between the sixth and eighth innings, it was unable to advance a runner to scoring position during that period, leaving the contest still a one-run game.
Varner kept mowing hitters down even with the slim lead. The senior needed only eight pitches to retire the side in the seventh on two fly outs and a groundout. He also fired just eight pitches in the eighth, again retiring the side in order on two fly outs and a groundout.
At just over 100 pitches, Varner was brought back in the ninth to finish what he started, this time facing the top of the UT order. He retired Deion Tansel on a groundout and forced Grogg to fly out to get two quick outs. With Ryan Callahan all that stood between him and a shutout, Varner reached back and struck him out on three pitches for his career-high 12th strikeout, finishing off his first-collegiate complete game in shutout fashion.
Varner tossed 115 pitches, pouring 83 of them in for strikes. He yielded just two hits and two walks with those 12 strikeouts to move to 6-2 on the season. That overshadowed an impressive outing by UT starter Ryan Wilkinson, who allowed one run on seven hits over eight innings while striking out four batters. Walsh (2-for-4 with an RBI) and Matt Honchel (2-for-3) both posted multi-hit games for the RedHawks. The contest was Miami's fastest game this season, lasting one hour and 37 minutes from first pitch to final out.
Miami and Toledo resume the weekend series on Saturday with first pitch at 3 p.m. However, fans are invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Legacy Project at Hayden Park prior to the contest at 2 p.m.