OXFORD, Ohio – Gary Russo’s 10th-inning RBI double gave the Miami University baseball a dramatic 5-4 extra-inning win over Bowling Green on Friday night.
The knock capped a three-hit day for the sophomore and ended hopes of a BGSU comeback after it scored twice in the ninth to force extras. That victory moves MU to 21-24 overall and 11-8 in Mid-American Conference play.
The Falcons (20-21, 10-9 MAC) put runners at first and third with one away in the first. Brian Bien led off the game with an infield hit, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on a passed ball while Jeremy Shay walked to put another runner on. BGSU appeared to take a 1-0 lead when T.J. Losby lofted a fly ball to right field. Bien tagged from third and jumped over MU catcher Max Andresen to touch home, but on an appeal he was ruled to leave the base early and was called out to end the top of the first scoreless.
In the bottom of the frame, Miami put a runner into scoring position as Steve Sada led off with a single and stole second with one out. However, a fly out and strike out kept him from advancing any further.
After retiring the side in order with a pair of strikeouts in the second, Seth Varner got two quick outs to start the top of the third. Bien grinded out a long at-bat with a two-out single and an error put two aboard. Varner picked up his fielders by fanning Jeremy Shay to keep the contest scoreless.
BGSU drew first blood with an unearned in the fourth. Back-to-back singles by Trey Keegan and Patrick Lancaster put runners at first and third with one away. Varner froze Brandon Howard to pick up his fourth strikeout and get within an out of escaping the jam. The lefty induced a groundball to the left side, but the throw bounced and was unable to be scooped at first base. The error allowed Keegan to score, putting MU down 1-0.
John Crummy watched four pitches go wide to start the bottom of the fifth inning and moved up 90 feet on Matt Honchel’s sacrifice bunt. After working the count full, Scott Slappey cracked a double into the left center field gap, tying the score at one apiece after five.
The Falcons moved the go-ahead run 90 feet from home in the sixth as Losby singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and was advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Varner zoned in by striking out Lancaster and Brandon Howard to keep the game tied 1-1.
The Red and White plated two runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Russo kept the inning alive by ripping a single through the box while Andresen pulled a single to right that was misplayed by Jesse Rait. The BGSU right fielder then made an errant throw trying as both runners advanced an extra 90 feet, which allowed Russo to score on the play to give Miami its first lead of the night at 2-1. Crummy followed that by dropping a bloop single down the left field line to make it a 3-1 ballgame after six.
Bowling Green got a run back in the top of the seventh on Jake Thomas’ two-out RBI single. Miami got the final out by cutting off the throw home and catching Thomas in a run down after Logan Walker touched home to cut the lead to 3-2.
Miami added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Max Andresen launched his second home run of the season, a solo shot over the 400-foot center field fence. That put the Red and White ahead 4-2 going into the ninth.
With the win of utmost importance, Sunday starter Ryan Powers was summoned out of the bullpen to pitch the ninth. Lancaster was hit by a pitch to start the frame, but Powers got the next two outs on a groundout and a strikeout to get within a batter of a series opening win. Rait put the tying run on base and brought the top of the lineup to the dish. Bien made the RedHawks pay by drilling a game-tying two run double down the left field line. Sending the game to extra innings tied 4-4.
After holding BGSU scoreless in the top of the 10th, Sada opened the bottom of the frame by lining a single just over the glove of Bien at short. Walsh dropped a sacrifice bunt down successfully to move him to scoring position and an intentional walk put runners at first and second with one away. That brought Russo to the plate and the sophomore roped a walk-off RBI double off the wall in left to give the RedHawks the win in walk-off fashion.
Neither starter factored in the decision as both Varner and BGSU starter Mike Frank tossed eight innings. Varner was masterful, fanning eight batters and holding the Falcons to two runs (one earned) on six hits while walking just one batter to lower his season ERA to 2.38. Powers recovered from Bowling Green’s ninth-inning rally to toss a scoreless 10th and move to 6-3 on the season.
Russo (3-for-5 with a double) was one of four RedHawks to post multi-hit games. He joined Sada (2-for-5 with a run scored), Andresen (2-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored) and Slappey (2-for-3 with one RBI) with solid offensive efforts.
Game two of the three-game set pits Nathan Williams against Brett Fitzwater. First pitch at McKie Field is at 3 p.m.