OXFORD, Ohio – Seth Varner turned in another strong start, but Akron scored seven runs in its final four innings to top the Miami University baseball team, 7-5, on Friday.
The senior held the Zips (14-12, 6-1 Mid-American) to three runs in seven innings of work, but did not factor in the decision.
Akron’s first three batters of the game reached to load the bases with nobody out in the first as Kris Simonton was hit by a pitch, Matt Rembielak doubled and Devan Ahart walked. Varner settled in after that, striking out both Brady Stewart and Joey Havrilak before retiring the side on Dom Iero’s groundout to end the inning. That began a streak where the southpaw retired 12 of 13 batters over the next four innings, with the lone runner to reach getting picked off in the second. Varner retired nine-straight batters at one point after UA led off the second with a single.
The RedHawks (10-17, 2-5 MAC) grabbed the lead in the bottom of the third. Steve Sada doubled down the left field line with two outs and Jake Romano drilled a single to right field that brought him around. Miami added another run to its lead the very next inning, with Dan Walsh doubling before scoring on Max Andresen’s RBI single, putting the Red and White ahead 2-0 after four innings.
The Zips finally got to Varner in the sixth, recording four singles to tie the game up at 2-2. Havrilak’s RBI single to left with runners at first and third put Akron on the board while Matt LaRocca’s infield hit with two outs extended the inning and scored the tying run.
Akron took its first lead of the night in the top of the seventh. After a groundout from the first batter, UA loaded the bases with one out. Varner struck out Stewart, one of eight strikeouts on the night for him, to get within an out of escaping the jam. It appeared he might keep the Zips at bay when Havrilak hit a grounder to first, but the ball took a bad hop and Havrilak beat out the play to plate Simonton and put Akron on top 3-2.
Sada’s two-out RBI single ensured Miami’s deficit didn’t last long in the bottom of the seventh. Walsh led off the frame with a double and eventually scored when Sada’s fly ball caught a swirling wind and dropped between Rembielak and Simonton in short left field. The Zips recovered to gun out a runner at third base on the play, but Walsh touched home first to even the score at 3-3 after seven.
The teams traded two runs apiece in the eighth inning with the Zips scoring for the third-straight frame in the top half. UA drew three-straight walks with one out to load the bases and regained the lead on Rembielak’s bunt single down the first base line. With two down, Stewart was hit by a pitch to force another run in. MU responded in kind the next half inning with Romano walking and Kendall Johnson singling to start the frame. After a bunt moved both runners up, Gary Russo came through with a big two-run single, sending the game to the ninth inning tied at 5-5.
A two-out bloop single by James Meeker put the Zips back in front while a Rembielak RBI single gave them an insurance run and made the score 7-5. Working his second inning of relief, Zach Beaver retired the RedHawks in order to finish the game.
Varner made his way through seven innings, marking the eighth-straight time he has pitched at least five innings this season. He allowed three runs on eight hits while walking three batters and striking out eight. UA starter John Valek posted a similar line, holding MU to three runs on six hits. He did not walk or strike out a batter. Wynston McMartin (0-1) took his first loss of the year out of the pen while Beaver (4-0) picked up the win in relief. Both Walsh (2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs) and Sada (2-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI) posted multi-hit games for the RedHawks.
Game two of this weekend’s series is on Saturday at 3 p.m. Nathan Williams will toe the rubber for the Red and White.