LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Miami University baseball team added a signature win to its credit by topping the No. 10 Louisville Cardinals 6-4 on Friday afternoon.
The victory is the RedHawks’ (4-6) fourth in their last five games. It’s also the Red and White’s first win over a ranked opponent since topping No. 16 Ole Miss, 9-8, on March 2, 2012.
“This was a great team win,” Miami head coach Danny Hayden said. “When we are locked in for all nine innings, I like our chances to win most days. Everyone did great playing intense for all nine innings, we were ready to win a baseball game today.”
Miami loaded the bases in the first inning with Jake Romano’s lead-off triple followed Matt Honchel and Scott Slappey walks. Joe Filomeno worked out of trouble by striking out the next batter and getting help from his defense as John Crummy lined a ball to right field, but Cole Sturgeon threw Romano out at the plate as he tried to score from third.
The Cardinals (8-4) got on the board in the bottom of the frame as Sutton Whiting singled to start the frame and promptly stole second base. After a groundout left him at second, Whiting swiped third base and scored on a throwing error. Seth Varner worked around the miscue and retired the next two batters on groundouts to hold UL to the lone unearned run.
MU responded with a one-out surge in the second. Dan Walsh and Chad Sedio both singled and Kendall Johnson walked to load the bases and bring it back to the top of the lineup. Romano drew a bases loaded walk to tie the score up and Honchel’s one-out RBI single gave the RedHawks a 2-1 lead. The Red and White tacked on three more runs in the third. Walsh’s two-out double plated Jacob Wolf to make the score 3-1. UL miscues ended up proving costly as an error put runners at first and third and an errant pickoff throw moved both runner up, allowing Walsh to score. Johnson’s RBI single capped the inning to put the RedHawks on top 5-1.
Louisville loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but Varner wriggled free by striking out Danny Rosenbaum to keep the lead at 5-1. Miami followed by adding another run in the fourth as Honchel led off with a single, stole second and scored on Crummy’s RBI single. The senior catcher’s knock extended MU’s lead to 6-1.
The Cardinals jumped right back into the game in the bottom of the fifth when Grant Kay hit a three-run homer with one down to cut the gap to 6-4. After setting MU down in order in the top of the sixth, UL put the tying runs aboard with two outs in the home half before Varner struck out Whiting to strand both runners.
Nearing 100 pitches, Varner came back out to try and get through the seventh inning. After Sturgeon led off with a single, the senior lefty induced a fly out and a foul out. Sturgeon stole second base during that sequence and the Hayden went to Wynston McMartin out of the pen to get the final out of the frame. McMartin did just that, retiring Rosenbaum on a pop out to keep the RedHawks on top after seven innings.
The sophomore came back out for the eighth and got into some trouble after issuing consecutive one-out walks. McMartin regained his composure from there and induced a pop out before striking out Whiting to keep the Cardinals at bay in that frame, putting the RedHawks three outs away from a signature victory.
After being held off the board in the ninth, the Red and White entered the bottom of the frame clinging to the two-run lead with the middle of the Cardinals’ order at the plate. After Sturgeon lined out, Kay drilled a double with one out to bring the tying run to the plate. McMartin battled back to strike out Jeff Gardner and then pinch-hitter Nick Solak flied out to seal the win.
Varner (2-1) picked up his second-straight win after battling through 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits while walking two and striking out four. McMartin took the ball from Varner and finished it up, getting the final seven outs to earn his second save of the season. He fanned two batters and allowed one hit and two walks in 2 1/3 innings.
“Wynston pitched his tail off out of the pen and Seth pitched well against a great team,” Hayden said. “This win can build a lot of confidence in the locker room. It’s easier to prove yourself that you’re good enough when you beat good teams.”
The RedHawks outhit the Cardinals 12-10 and had three players pick up multiple hits. Wolf’s 3-for-4 outing led lineup while Honchel and Walsh both went 2-for-4.
Miami and Louisville continue their weekend series on Saturday, with Nathan Williams taking the mound for the Red and White. First pitch is at noon.