Fresh off a stretch of eight of 10 at home, Miami heads on the road for seven of its next eight games, beginning Friday with a key Mid-American Conference series at Northern Illinois. The Huskies are tied for first overall in the league, while the RedHawks are just two games back in a tie for third.
Games are set for 4 p.m. (ET) Friday and 2 p.m. (ET) Saturday and Sunday at Ralph McKinzie Field.
Miami (19-20, 9-6) has won five of its last seven following a split of a home-and-home series with Dayton this week. On Wednesday, the RedHawks pounded out 18 hits in a 13-5 victory. Last weekend, Miami took two of three from Ball State.
Northern Illinois (16-22, 11-4) has been the surprise team of the early MAC schedule. After being picked last in the West, they have bolted to a three-game lead past the midway point. The Huskies lost 3-2 at Iowa on Wednesday.
Designated hitter John Crummy has taken over the team lead in hitting with a .343 average. He is 14-of-26 over the last eight games. Jake Romano is second at .339, while Matt Honchel, last year’s leader, is third at .331. Kevin Bower moved back over the .300 mark Wednesday, using four hits to climb to .311.
Alex Johnson, who is 12-for-24 with eight extra-base hits over the last seven games, leads the club in home runs (three) and runs batted in (31).
Miami will repeat its rotation this week after making a change last weekend. The Friday and Saturday spots belong to senior right-handers Brooks Fiala (5-4, 2.65 ERA) and Mac Thoreson (3-5, 6.62). Fiala is the reigning MAC East Pitcher of the Week after throwing eight scoreless innings and striking out 12 last Friday.
Sophomore lefty Seth Varner (0-0, 5.00) has been tabbed to throw on Sunday. He made his first start of 2013 a week ago, giving up three runs and seven hits in a five-inning no-decision.