AVON LAKE, Ohio – Survival is not always pretty, but the Miami University baseball team did what it needed to keep its season alive in a 4-3 win over Central Michigan on Thursday.
The RedHawks (30-26) eliminated the Chippewas (35-23) from the Mid-American Conference Tournament with the win and survive to play on Friday.
Jordan Foley set the RedHawks down in order in the top of the first and the Chippewas put together a scoring threat when Nick Regnier walked and Tyler Huntey was hit by a pitch to put two aboard with one out. A groundout moved both runners up, but a fly out ended the frame.
The Red and White put two runners on with two down in the second, but a fly out kept the contest scoreless. Ryan Powers went through CMU’s lineup in order in the bottom of the frame to get Miami back to the batter’s box. Miami broke through with two down in the third after John Crummy pulled a single down the right field line to plate Steve Sada, who singled to start the frame, and put MU ahead 1-0.
After Powers went through the Chippewas in order again to end the third, the RedHawks’ offense kept rolling in the top of the fourth. Max Andresen led off with a single and scored two batters later when Chad Sedio launched a long two-run home run to right field to extend the lead to 3-0.
Powers set down eight-straight CMU batters after getting into trouble in the first, but Tyler Huntey singled for the Chippewas’ first hit to start the bottom of the fourth. Powers recovered by inducing a foul out and striking out the last two hitters to keep the lead at 3-0 after four full frames.
Miami tacked on another run in the top of the fifth. Ryan Elble began the inning by grinding down Foley and pulling a single to left on the 10th-pitch he saw. Elble moved to second on a bunt and advanced again on a groundout before Gary Russo smacked a two-out RBI single through the box to put the RedHawks on top 4-0.
The Chippewas threatened for a big fifth inning. Alex Borglin led off the frame with a double and moved to third on a groundout. A walk by Morgan Oliver and a bunt single from Nick Regnier loaded the bases with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate. Pat MacKenzie put CMU on the board by slicing an RBI single through the hole in the left side of the infield to cut MU’s lead to 4-1. Powers recovered by forcing out the lead runner on a comebacker before ending the inning on a shallow pop out to third.
The score remained 4-1 at the seventh inning stretch, but Central Michigan put its first two hitters aboard to start the frame with Oliver and Nick Regnier both singling. A ground ball moved both runners into scoring position for Huntey, who singled to right field to cut the deficit to 4-2 and end Powers’ afternoon. Ryan Marske came in relief and settled down after walking the first batter he faced. A induced a comebacker where he forced out the lead runner at home and ended the inning by retiring pinch-hitter Adam Collins on a groundout.
Central Michigan crept closer in the bottom of the eighth. After a Borglin walk, Charles Zubrod retired the next two batters on a fielder’s choice and a pop out. However, three-straight Chippewas reached on a Nick Regnier single, a MacKenzie walk and an RBI infield single by Huntey that made it 4-3. Zubrod did hold the lead there by retiring Cody Leichman on a lineout to left, sending the game to the ninth inning.
Zubrod managed to get a couple quick outs to start the bottom of the ninth, but a two-out walk by Borglin put the tying run on base. It appeared the game would end when Noel Santos flared a fly ball to left, but the ball was dropped and put the winning run on. However, Zubrod recovered to retire Oliver and a fielder’s choice grounder to keep Miami’s season alive.
Powers (9-3) picked up the victory on the mound after yielding two runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings of work. He struck out four batters and walked two. Marske (2/3 of an inning) and Zubrod (two innings) combined to get the last eight outs with Zubrod picked up his fifth save of the year. Miami did a nice job limiting the damage Central Michigan did with its scoring threats, forcing the Chippewas to strand 15 runners on Thursday afternoon.
Offensively, Sada led the way with three hits for Miami while Elble and Matt Honchel both went 2-for-4. Sedio’s two-run homer was the RedHawks’ only extra-base hit and the sophomore’s two RBI led MU.
Miami will try to continue its run in the tournament on Friday when it takes on either Buffalo or Akron at 1 p.m.