Games 13-14: Miami RedHawks (4-8) vs./at Xavier Musketeers (7-5)
Tuesday, March 11 • 6:00 p.m.
McKie Field at Hayden Park • Oxford, Ohio
Wednesday, March 12 • 3:00 p.m.
Hayden Field • Cincinnati, Ohio
AROUND THE HORN
• Sophomore Gary Russo is on an eight-game hitting streak, during which he’s hitting .393 with a .514 on-base percentage and a .607 slugging percentage.
• After recording six extra base hits in 34 games last season, Jake Romano has four doubles and a triple in Miami’s first 12 games.
• Miami has an 8.37 ERA in games that have not been started by Seth Varner (3.63 team ERA in his four starts).
• Since committing 13 errors in three games (.882 fielding percentage) at Arkansas State on opening weekend, the RedHawks have committed just 11 errors (.962 fielding percentage) in thier last nine contests.
Probable Starting Pitchers (Miami starters on top)
Clay Cinnamon (Jr. RHP), 0-0, 99.00 ERA, 0.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
Trent Astle (Fr., LHP), 0-0, 2.08 ERA, 8.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K
Eric Stiene (So., RHP) 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
The Miami baseball team plays a midweek home-and-home series against in-state foe Xavier, hosting the Musketeers on Tuesday (6 p.m.) and playing at Xavier on Wednesday (3 p.m.)
ABOUT XAVIER: The Musketeers are off to a 7-5 start, though they have dropped five of their last eight since starting the year 4-0. Xavier is averaging over seven runs per game, belting 10 home runs in 12 games. Four Xavier batters are hitting at least .309 (min. 20 at-bats). The Musketeers have been solid on the mound as their weekend starters all boast an ERA of 3.46 or better while the pitching staff as a whole has compiled a solid 3.79 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .244 average.
SERIES HISTORY: Miami and Xavier have met on the diamond 131 times since 1920, with the RedHawks holding the all-time series lead at 84-45-2. Things have taken a turn in favor of the Musketeers lately as they have won six of the last nine meetings against the RedHawks since the start of the 2011 season.
XAVIER CONNECTION: Miami head coach Danny Hayden played three seasons as a catcher for Xavier. He also served as the Muskateers’ assistant coach for three seasons before joining the RedHawks.
LAST TIME OUT: Miami stunned No. 10 Louisville with a 6-4 upset win in last Friday night’s series opener. Seth Varner battled his way through 6.2 innings, holding the Cardinals to four runs (three earned) on nine hits before giving way to sophomore Wynston McMartin, who got the final seven outs to notch his second save of the season. UL came back to take the series, however, downing MU by scores of 10-1 and 9-0 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
GETTING IT STARTED: Sophomore outfielder Jake Romano is doing everything you expect a leadoff hitter to do so far. Romano is batting .319 with a .414 on-base percentage through 12 games and is a stellar 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts. He is also showing quite a bit more extra-base power this year, notching five (4 2B, 1 3B) in the first 12 games after finishing with only six extra-base hits (3 2B, 3 3B) in 34 games as a freshman.
FAST FRIDAYS: Senior lefty Seth Varner has provided the pitching staff a nice lift over his first four starts. Varner has allowed three earned runs or less in all four starts while logging at least five innings in each appearance. After holding Arkansas State to three runs (two earned) in six innings on opening day, the senior struck out a career-best 11 Belmont batters while handing a 4-3 lead over to the bullpen after five innings of work last on Feb. 21. He notched the best start of his career last Friday but tossing eight shutout innings while only allowing one hit to pick up his first win of the season at Davidson. On March 7, He then grinding through 6.2 innings allowing four runs (three earned) to defeat No. 10 Louisville on March 7. After posting a 5.13 ERA a year ago, Varner has a 2.81 mark in his first four starts this year. He has fanned 26 batters and walked only eight while allowing just 20 hits in his first 25.2 innings of work.
CATCHING ON: Miami head coach Danny Hayden is in an enviable spot with his team’s backstops. The early signs for experienced returners John Crummy and Max Andresen have been rather promising, with both providing a potent bat in the middle of the order. Crummy (seven starts) and Andresen (four) have combined to for 11 starts behind the plate. In 11 games, Crummy is batting .295 with two extra base hits and five RBI while Andresen is hitting .296 with four extra-base hits (including a home run) and six RBI in eight games.
HITTING DISPLAY: Miami had high expectations for sophomore Gary Russo’s bat and the early signs are encouraging. After finishing with one hit on opening weekend, Russo enters play this week on an eight-game hitting streak, posting a .393/.514/.607 batting line in that stretch. Russo leads the RedHawks with a .442 on-base percentage while batting .333 and slugging .528.
SLAP ON: Junior infielder Scott Slappey’s play is earning him more and more playing time so far. Slappey is tied for the team lead with eight RBI in eight games. His .364 average leads the Red and White while his four extra-base hits are tied for second on the team. He belted his second-career home run at Davidson on March 2. Slappey has four multi-hit games and a team-best three multi-RBI outings this season.
WALSH LIFTS OFF: Senior infielder Dan Walsh is off to a torrid start to the season in his own right, batting .349 with three extra base hits. His .431 on-base percentage and .488 slugging percentage rank third on the RedHawks, respectively. He has hit safely in nine of the 11 games he’s played and has five multi-hit outings.