MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Miami baseball team was swinging the bats well early on, but could not tack on insurance runs in a 4-3 loss at Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
The RedHawks (0-5) drop to 0-2 in this weekend’s Mule Mix Classic, with both setbacks coming in one-run decisions.
“Offensively, we have to keep up the intensity after we get an early lead,” Miami head coach Danny Hayden said. “We let a couple innings go by before we started threatening again. When you take a lead, you have to find a way to scratch out a few more runs.”
Nathan Williams worked around a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first, striking out the last two batters to strand a runner at third. With the game still scoreless, Max Andresen belted his first home run of the season to start the second, putting the Red and White on top 1-0. Jacob Wolf added a home run of his own to put Miami on top 2-0 after an inning and a half.
The Blue Raiders threatened to get those runs right back in the bottom of the frame, putting runners at second and third with nobody out, but Williams induced a pair of infield popups to get the first two outs without the runners advancing. After hitting a batter to load the bases, the junior right-hander then escaped the jam by inducing a fly out to right.
Jake Romano led off the third with a walk and then advanced to third after stealing second base and advancing on a Blue Raider error. After a Dan Walsh walk, Matt Honchel laced an RBI double down the left field line to make it a 3-0 Miami lead.
Middle Tennessee got on the board in the bottom of the fourth on the strength of Jake Ingold’s one-out RBI triple to right center field. Ingold came around one batter later on an RBI groundout, cutting Miami’s lead to 3-2 after four innings.
MTSU put together a scoring threat in the fifth, drawing a pair of walks and eventually chasing Williams with two outs and two men on base. Jacob Banks came in and got the RedHawks out of the jam with the lead intact. However, the Blue Raiders tied it up in the sixth via a leadoff walk, an errant pickoff throw that advanced the runner to third and a wild pitch that evened the score at 3-3.
With two outs in the seventh, Romano beat out an infield single and advanced to third on Walsh’s single. Honchel worked a two-out walk to load the bases, but MTSU stranded all three by forcing a groundout to keep the score tied.
A two-out rally by MTSU gave the Blue Raiders their first lead. A hit batter and a walk put two runners aboard before Jake Ellison drove an RBI single to make it 4-3.
After going down in order in the eighth, the RedHawks were down to their last out in the ninth when Jake Romano came to the dish. The sophomore lined a double the opposite way to put the tying run in scoring position for Walsh. The senior hit a grounder to the hole, but shortstop Dustin Delgado got to the ball and threw to third base to cut off the lead runner, who was eventually run down for the final out.
Williams limited MTSU to two runs on four hits in 4.2 innings. He also struck out two batters, but his day was shortened a bit by four walks. Brad Schwartz (0-1) took the loss out of the bullpen after allowing one run on one hit in 2.1 innings. Schwartz was one of four pitchers to throw for MU.
“Nate did a good job keeping us in the game,” Hayden said. “He put himself in some tough spots, but battled out of them more often than not. We’re trying to let everyone dictate what role they have in our bullpen and a couple guys are doing alright at keeping us in ballgames. I think Brad has done a nice job keeping so far. Jacob was a little out of gas today, but he’s done some good things as well. We’re also hoping some seniors can step up going forward as well and earn their innings, we will give them the opportunity to do just that.”
Romano and Walsh each went 2-for-4 with a walk while batting first and second, respectively, for the Red and White. Romano is 7-for-12 (.583) with three steals in his last three games.
Miami concludes its tour through Tennessee on Sunday when it wraps up the Mule Mix Classic at Lipscomb. Ryan Powers will start on the hill for the RedHawks and first pitch is at 2 p.m. ET.