OXFORD, Ohio -- Miami Baseball heads South for the third straight weekend when it faces Mercer Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The teams will play a three-game set, concluding with a doubleheader on the second day.
Miami (2-3) won two of three last weekend during its second consecutive trip to the First Pitch Invitational in Greenville, S.C. After falling 6-5 in 11 innings to Furman on Friday, the RedHawks bounced back with wins over Western Carolina (3-2 in 10) and Michigan State (8-6).
Mercer is off to a terrific start to 2013, winning eight of its first nine games. The Bears opened with three straight victories, defeating Ohio State, St. John's and Notre Dame in Florida. After falling to Alabama State, they swept a three-game series from Bethune-Cookman and a pair of contests with Florida A&M.
Sophomores Matt Packer and Max Andresen lead Miami's offense, each registering three hits in 10 at-bats. Senior Kevin Bower stands third at .294, recording a team-high five hits. Senior Alex Johnson has a pair of home runs -- the only RedHawk with a long ball -- and four runs batted in, one shy of team leader Andresen.
Miami will use the same pitching rotation as it did on the first two weekends. Senior Brooks Fiala (0-1, 4.85 ERA) will open on Friday, while senior Mac Thoreson (0-1, 3.27 ERA) and sophomore Nathan Williams (1-0, 5.00 ERA) will pitch the doubleheader.
Senior Brandon Adkins has established himself as the leader out of the bullpen during the first five games. He has not allowed a hit in three games (2.1 innings pitched) and has a save in both RedHawk wins.
As a team, Miami is hitting just .200, reaching 10 hits only once (at Furman, Feb. 17). The RedHawks have seven extra-base hits so far, but no sacrifices of either variety. They have walked 18 times, but have struck out 44.
On the defensive side, Miami has a .956 fielding percentage and a team ERA of 4.44.Series History
Miami and Mercer have faced each other once twice in their baseball histories. The teams split a two-game series in Macon during the 1965 season.
Miami won the opener 3-0 before falling in the finale 3-1.
A look at the two meetings with the Bears:
Mercer (1-1) Date Site Result Score 4/03/65 Macon, Ga. L 1-3 4/02/65 Macon, Ga. W 3-0
After dropping its first three games of the season, Miami brings a two-game winning streak into the weekend. with a series win over the Bears, the RedHawks would have at least a .500 record after eight games for the third straight season.
Sitting Them Down
Friday starter Brooks Fiala has struck out 15 opponents in just 13 innings this season. In the season opener against Northwestern, he fanned seven in just five innings of work, then sat down eight Furman batters in six innings last week.
The performances marked the sixth and seventh time in his career that he has fanned at least seven batters in a contest.
Fiala’s career-best is nine, also coming in his first outing of the season, at Furman on Feb. 18, 2012. He has struck out eight batters twice and seven on four occasions now.
Miami is hitting just .200 through five games this season, totaling just 34 hits in five games. The RedHawks have reached double digits only once -- 10 vs. Furman on Feb. 17 -- while being held to five or less twice. The season low is three in the opener against Northwestern.
The low hitting numbers can be associated with a high number of strikeouts so far in 2013. Miami batters have fanned 44 times in five games, an average of 8.8 per contest.
Senior Alex Johnson has both of Miami’s home runs this season. He hit a three-run home against Furman on Feb, 17, then added a solo shot against Michigan State last Sunday.
A year ago, Miami had only 10 long balls all season, with Bryce Redeker hitting a team-high four.
Miami enters the weekend with nine players holding an active hitting streak. However, only three of those are for multiple games. Kevin Bower, Max Andresen and Matt Honchel have each hit safely in back-to-back games. Senior Alex Johnson has the longest streak of the year, registering at least one hit in the first three games.
A pair of sophomores -- Honchel and Scott Slappey -- are the only two players to reach base in every game this year. In fact, Honchel ended the 2012 campaign on a 16-game streak, meaning he has reached base in 21 straight over two seasons.
A Career Day
Sophomore Scott Slappey had a pair of two-RBI hits on Sunday against Michigan State. In the first inning, he singled with the bases loaded, then one inning later, doubled in the same situation.
The four runs batted in topped his previous best of three at vs. Bowling Green on April 21 of last season.
Sophomore Max Andresen leads the team in runs batted in with five, including two against Michigan State on Sunday. He just missed a home run in the second inning, doubling off the wall in right center with runners on second and third. Andresen finished his entire freshman campaign with 15 runs batted in.
Savin’ The Day
Senior Brandon Adkins has saved both of Miami’s wins so far in 2013 and has not allowed an earned run in three appearances.
Adkins has not allowed a hit and walked only one in 2.1 innings of work.
Gunning them Down
Catcher Nate Bowles has already thrown out five runners attempting to steal. Four of those came against Furman on Feb. 22. In total, only three base thieves against him have been successful.
Miami’s other catchers -- John Crummy and Max Andresen -- have caught only one of four runners against them.
In 2012, the three RedHawk catchers gunned down 29 runners in 88 attempts.
Getting through the Roster
Miami has used 25 of its 35 rostered players through five games this season, including 14 position players and 11 pitchers.
Of the 10 who have yet to see action, there is a 5-5 split between pitchers and position players.
Junior Alex Brown and freshman Tyler Perkowitz were added to the travel roster this week after missing the first two trips.
Sophomore Matt Honchel was mentioned in several preseason publications in the last month.
The outfielder was on preseason All-America teams by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (second team) and by College Sports Madness (third team). He was also named “Toughest to Strike Out” and one of three “Best Pure Hitters” in a poll of MAC coaches conducted by College Baseball Insider.
Miami Baseball signed four players to national letters-of-intent during the early signing period last November. Joining the RedHawks for the 2014 season will be Spencer Dull (Indianapolis, Ind.), Stephen Sada (Saegertown, Pa.), Jacob Banks (Cincinnati) and Christian Bokich (Hindsdale, Ill.).
A full release on the signees can be found on MURedHawks.com
For the third straight season, Miami was tabbed second in the Mid-American Conference East Division in the annual preseason coaches’ poll. The RedHawks received 58 points behind defending regular-season and tournament champion Kent State. Central Michigan was the favorite to win the West Division.
2013 MAC Baseball Preseason Poll MAC East Division 1. Kent State - 72 points 2. Miami - 58 points 3. Bowling Green - 44 points 4. Ohio - 34 points 5. Akron - 25 points 6. Buffalo - 19 points MAC West Division 1. Central Michigan - 65 points 2. Toledo - 60 points 3. Eastern Michigan - 54 points 4. Western Michigan - 36 points 5. Ball State - 23 points 5. Northern Illinois - 15 points