OXFORD, Ohio – In one swing of the bat, Dan Walsh quelled any comeback hopes for Northern Kentucky. The senior’s bases loaded single in the ninth gave the Miami baseball team a walk-off 7-6 win over NKU at Hayden Park on Tuesday.
The RedHawks (8-9) jumped ahead early thanks to Ryan Elble’s RBI double in the bottom of the second inning. MU fell behind in the top of the third however as a pair of errors allowed NKU to score two unearned runs.
Gary Russo’s two-run double put the Red and White back on top 3-2 in the bottom of the frame. The knock also extended the sophomore’s hitting streak to 13 games. Max Andresen brought Russo around in the next at-bat, singling through the box to cap a three-run inning.
Elble’s speed netted MU another run in the fourth. The shortstop led off the frame with a single and promptly stole second base. An errant throw during the steal allowed him to move up to third base and Tommy Ricciardi’s RBI single brought him the final 90 feet home. Russo drove himself in by belting his fourth home run of the season in the fifth, a solo shot that made it 6-2 Miami.
Charles Zubrod did not allow a hit over the first five innings in his first start of the season, but the Norse (3-14) got to him in the sixth. Zac Asman’s sacrifice fly started a three-run rally in the frame. David Head drew NKU another run closer with an RBI fielder’s choice and Josh Myers pinch-hit RBI single cut the RedHawks’ lead to 6-5. The lead held until Asman launched a solo homer to tie the score at 6-6 in the top of the eighth.
“We played a pretty good game tonight,” Miami head coach Danny Hayden said. “There are still things we can improve on, but we are talented enough that we should win our share of games going forward if we play well. I give credit to Northern Kentucky, they played tough and put a lot of pressure on us in the late innings.”
Facing extra innings, Scott Slappey doubled to start the bottom of the ninth and John Crummy’s sacrifice bunt moved the winning run over to third base. Not wanting the potent bats of Russo or Andresen to beat them, the Norse issued intentional walks to both batters, setting the table for Walsh. The senior third baseman went the other way, lacing a single to left field to give the RedHawks their fourth-straight victory.
Zubrod did not factor in the decision, but carried a no-hitter into the sixth. He ended up tossing 5.2 innings and allowing five runs (three earned) on three hits. He struck out four batters and walked three. Three MU relievers allowed just one run on two hits in 3.1 innings, with Charlie Suich (1-1) picking up the win after throwing a perfect ninth inning.
“Charles has the kind of stuff that could allow him to pitch deeper into games,” Hayden said. “He felt good about his stuff and he did a nice job of getting us back into the dugout quickly.”
In addition to Russo’s 2-for-3 evening, Ricciardi notched his first multi-hit game of the year by going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Miami opens Mid-American Conference play this weekend when it hosts Western Michigan for a three-game series. First pitch in Friday’s opener is slated for 6 p.m.