OXFORD, Ohio – Nathan Williams turned in a dominant start, finishing one out shy of a complete game to help the Miami University baseball team top Bowling Green 3-1 on Saturday.
Saturday’s result clinches a series victory for the RedHawks while improving them to 22-24 this season and 12-8 in Mid-American Conference play.
The Falcons (20-22, 10-10 MAC) had a runner at third with two outs in the first after Jeremy Shay was hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw. Williams kept BGSU off the board however by inducing an inning-ending fly out.
Miami jumped on the board two batters in. Steve Sada opened the frame with a well-placed single to center and Dan Walsh pulled an RBI triple down the first-base line to put the Red and White on top 1-0. A promising start to the inning was quelled when Chad Sedio’s sinking line drive was caught by Shay at first base with Walsh anticipating the ball hitting the ground and trying to score. That resulted in a line drive double play to hold MU to just the one run in the opening frame.
T.J. Losby’s RBI double to right center tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the fourth. With the go ahead run in scoring position, Williams avoided further damage by forcing Patrick Lancaster to fly out and fanning Brandon Howard to send it to the bottom of the inning.
The RedHawks manufactured a run in the bottom of the fifth. John Crummy was hit and Matt Honchel followed with a single to put a pair of runners aboard with nobody out. After fouling off two bunts, Scott Slappey dropped a sacrifice down successfully to move both runners up. Ryan Elble then did his job by lofting a sacrifice fly to center field that plated Crummy to put Miami up 2-1 after five innings of play.
Both teams threatened in the sixth. Shay drew a one-out walk and Lancaster singled with two down, but Williams retired pinch-hitter Greg Basalyga on a fly out to keep MU in front. In the RedHawks’ half of the frame, Walsh reached on an error while Gary Russo drew a one-out walk, but a pair of groundouts prevented them from scoring.
Miami finally stretched its lead on a confusing play in the bottom of the seventh. Honchel led off the frame with a single and advanced to scoring position on Slappey’s bunt. Elble came up and launched a fly ball deep to right field that bounced off the top of the wall. Initially, the play was ruled a catch by Jesse Rait in right with a force out at second to end the frame. After conversing as a group, the umpires ruled that the ball bounced off the top of the wall for an RBI triple that put the Red and White on top by a 3-1 count.
After cruising through the eighth inning on eight pitches thanks to a double play ball, Williams attempted to finish what he started in the ninth. The junior right-hander made quick work of Lancaster and Basalyga, striking both out to get within one batter of a complete game victory. Andrew Kubuski beat out an infield single into the hole to bring the tying run to the plate and Logan Walker drew a four-pitch walk to put the tying run aboard. That ended Williams’ afternoon and brought freshman Brad Schwartz to the mound. Schwartz took on pinch hitter Matt Smith and dispatched him on his second pitch by forcing a groundout to second to pick up his first-collegiate save and deliver the RedHawks a series-clinching victory.
Williams ended up pitching 8.2 innings and allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out seven batters while walking three to move to 4-6 on the season. Honchel went 2-for-3 to top the RedHawks’ in hits while Elble drove in two of their three runs.
Miami tries to finish off a sweep of Bowling Green in its home finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. Sunday’s game is senior day and the RedHawks will honor Alex Brown, John Crummy, Charlie Suich, Seth Varner, Dan Walsh and Charles Zubrod prior to the contest.