OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami baseball team was one swing from tying or taking the lead in the late innings, but its comeback bid fell short in a 6-5 loss to Xavier on Tuesday.
The Musketeers move to 8-5 while the RedHawks fall to 4-9 after their third-straight setback.
“We didn’t play a nine inning game today,” Miami head coach Danny Hayden said. “Xavier’s pitcher had a good start, but we have to put more pressure on them. We have to find ways to put pressure on teams and get players on base. We had some opportunities late in the game, but we didn’t play well enough early to win this one.”
The RedHawks jumped ahead two batters into their half of the first on Scott Slappey’s second home run of the year. A two-out triple by Gary Russo put another run 90 feet away, but Trent Astle got out of the jam by inducing a fly out, though Miami still led 1-0 after one full inning.
A two-out rally by Xavier tied it up the next half inning. Tres Eberhardt was hit with two outs and nobody on and Stephen Schoettmer drew a four-pitch walk. Andre Jernigan plated the first Musketeer run by pulling a single into left field to tie the game at 1-1.
The Musketeers grabbed the lead the very next inning, tacking on three runs in the third. Joe Forney’s RBI double brought Daniel Rizzie home and Forney later scored on a wild pitch. Schoettmer’s RBI single with two down capped the frame and put Xavier up 4-1. RBI singles by Eberhardt and Jernigan gave Xavier a 6-1 lead in the fifth.
After scoring a run on two hits in the first inning, Miami’s offense hit a dry spell against Xavier starter Trent Astle, managing just one hit and one walk between the second and seventh innings.
A Xavier error opened the door for Miami to stage a comeback in the eighth. Ryan Elble singled and Tommy Ricciardi walked to start the inning. A fielder’s choice ground ball was followed by a throwing error while trying to turn a double play, which allowed Elble to score. With two outs, Slappey was plunked by a pitch and John Crummy walked to load the bases for Russo. The sophomore came through with a two-run single to bring the Red and White within 6-4 after eight innings.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth as Elble slashed an opposite field single with one out for his second straight hit, bringing the tying run to the plate. With Max Andresen brought on to pinch hit, the Musketeers summoned lefty Brad Kirschner out of the pen to get a more favorable match up. After a strikeout, a misplayed fly ball allowed Elble to score from first and put the tying run into scoring position. With two outs, speedy center fielder Jake Romano hit a slow chopper to Jernigan at short. The shortstop charged the ball and fired to first for a very close play, but Romano was ruled out to end the game.
Clay Cinnamon (0-1) took the loss in his first start of the year, allowing four runs on two hits and three walks in 2.1 innings pitched. Brad Schwartz, Charlie Suich and Wynston McMartin combined to hold the Musketeers to only two runs 6.2 innings out of the pen.
Miami got multi-hit outings from both Elble and Russo. Elble scored twice while Russo tripled and drove in two runs.
The RedHawks and Musketeers battle again on Wednesday in Cincinnati for the final game of their midweek home-and-home series. First pitch is at 3 p.m.