OXFORD, Ohio – Gary Russo (4-for-5) led a dynamic offensive display for the Miami University baseball team in its 14-9 win over Xavier in the Joe Nuxhall Classic on Tuesday.
The sophomore finished a home run shy of the cycle to give Miami (13-17) its third-straight win.
After enduring a rain delay for an hour and 20 minutes, the RedHawks whacked three singles in the bottom of the first, with Chad Sedio’s rope through the box scoring Dan Walsh and Russo to put them up 2-0. With the bases loaded, Matt Honchel drew a five-pitch walk to put the Red and White ahead 3-0 after one full inning.
XU got on the board in the second inning on a Stephen Schoettmer RBI double which cut the MU lead to 3-1. The Red and White responded in kind with an explosive second inning, one where they scored a season-high eight runs to blow the game open at 11-1. Russo went the other way on a 2-2 pitch and drove the ball into the corner for a two run triple, bringing Walsh and John Crummy around. Russo then scored on Scott Slappey’s sacrifice fly to right field. The RedHawks continued their onslaught with two outs and nobody on. Sedio drew a four-pitch walk and scored on Ryan Elble’s double that stayed just inside the third base line. After walks by Honchel and Steve Sada loaded the bases, Jake Romano hit a two-run single up the middle to extend the lead to 9-1. A passed ball moved Sada and Romano to third and second, respectively, and allowed them both to score on Walsh’s two-run single to right.
The Musketeers began to chip away at the RedHawks’ 10-run lead in the third, plating a pair of unearned runs on a Miami throwing error and a sacrifice fly. Another sacrifice fly in the fourth, followed by another MU throwing error saw Miami’s lead cut to 11-5 at that point. Out of the pen, Ryan Haynes held the Musketeers there, inducing a fly out and picking off a runner at second base to escape the jam.
Miami added to its lead in the fifth as Crummy was hit by a pitch, Russo walked and Slappey singled to load the bases. While Sedio’s fly ball did not end up scoring Crummy, who was thrown out at home on an impressive play by left fielder Joe Forney, Honchel’s two-out RBI single plated Russo to put the RedHawks on top 12-5 after five complete innings.
Appearing in his first game since March 14, Haynes helped Miami bridge the gap by tossing 2.1 scoreless innings before giving way to Wynston McMartin with two outs in the sixth. While XU put together some scoring threats, the MU bullpen entered the ninth without allowing a run. The RedHawks added two more insurance runs in the eighth on Crummy’s RBI triple and Russo’s RBI single to go up 14-5.
The Musketeers made things interesting in the ninth, getting a pinch-hit RBI single from Bo Slemons along with an RBI double by Dan Rizzie to cut the gap to 14-7 with one out. Derek Hasenbeck added another single to pull Xavier within 14-8, bringing Alex Brown to the mound for Miami. The senior lefty induced an RBI groundout and ended the game by forcing Brian Bruening to fly out.
Russo was one of four RedHawks with multiple hits, reaching base five times on a triple, double, two singles and a walk while scoring three runs and driving in three more. Romano and Walsh both went 3-for-6 with two RBI and two runs scored while Crummy went 2-for-5 on the evening. Haynes (1-0) picked up his first collegiate win by tossing 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out two. Christian Bokich made his first-collegiate start for Miami and allowed five runs, though only one was earned, on six hits in 3.1 innings while finishing with three strikeouts.
With the win, Miami is in the Joe Nuxhall Classic Championship Game against Cincinnati. The RedHawks and Bearcats play at approximately 6:30 p.m., or following the conclusion of the consolation game between Xavier and Wright State at 3 p.m.