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A week after opening the season in Greenville, Miami returns to the Palmetto State for another weekend of action at the First Pitch Invitational. The RedHawks face a rematch against Furman Friday, play Western Carolina on Saturday and wrap up the action Sunday vs. Michigan State.

The final two games of the trip will be played at Fluor Field.

Miami (0-2) dropped a pair of games last weekend, falling to Northwestern 8-1 in the Friday opener and to Furman 6-5 on Sunday. In between, a scheduled matchup with Michigan State was postponed by snow.

Senior Alex Johnson leads Miami with a .375 average (3-of-8). He hit safely in both games, including a three-run homer against the Paladins. Senior Kevin Bower is the only other RedHawk over .300 with two hits in six at-bats. He had an RBI single in the opening game

On the mound, Miami will stay with the same rotation as it planned last week. Senior Brooks Fiala (0-1, 3.00 ERA) will open on Friday, while senior Mac Thoreson (0-1, 6.75) will pitch the second game. Sophomore Nathan Williams, who got bumped from a starting spot because of last week’s cancellation, will finish the weekend. He did see a relief appearance on Sunday, allowing three runs in 3.0 innings pitched.

Four other pitchers came out of the bullpen in relief during the weekend.

As a team, Miami is hitting only .203. After being held to just three hits on Friday, the RedHawks reached double digits (10) on Sunday. On the defensive side, seven pitchers saw action, combining for a 6.35 team ERA.

Series History

Michigan State and Furman are no strangers to RedHawk Baseball with several meetings in recent years, including last week vs. the Paladins. Miami has also faced Western Carolina in the past, although the most recent ones came during the 2004 season.

Furman tied the all-time series at 9 games apiece last Sunday with a 6-5 win at Fluor Field. All but the last two games in the series (both Paladin wins) have taken place at Lanham Stadium.

Despite their relative proximity, Miami and Michigan State have only had four previous meetings, including two last year. The teams split games as part of the 2012 First Pitch Invitational and were supposed to play last Saturday, but the game was snowed out.

Western Carolina has won five of six games against Miami with each of the meetings coming during a pair of three-game series. The Catamounts swept in 1997 and took two of three in 2004.

A look at the meetings with this week’s three opponents:

Western Carolina (1-5)
Date Site Result Score
3/07/04 Cullowhee, N.C. W 12-8
3/06/04 Cullowhee, N.C. L 12-14
3/06/04 Cullowhee, N.C. L 11-12
3/23/97 Cullowhee, N.C. L 6-12
3/22/97 Cullowhee, N.C. L 0-3
3/22/97 Cullowhee, N.C. L 8-11

Michigan State (1-3)
Date Site Result Score
2/26/12 Greenville, S.C. W 1-0
2/24/12 Greenville, S.C. L 4-13
2/21/10 Greenville, S.C. L 5-11
3/09/11 Winter Haven, Fla. L 5-7

Furman (9-9)
Year Site Result Score
02/17/13 Greenville, S.C. (Fluor) L 5-6
02/25/12 Greenville, S.C. (Fluor) L 6-8
02/18/12 Greenville, S.C. W 12-11
02/18/12 Greenville, S.C. W 8-2
02/17/12 Greenville, S.C. L 2-10
02/20/10 Greenville, S.C. W 23-5
02/26/06 Greenville, S.C. L 5-8
02/25/06 Greenville, S.C. W 11-7
02/25/06 Greenville, S.C. L 5-8
02/29/04 Greenville, S.C. W 6-4
02/28/04 Greenville, S.C. L 4-1
02/28/04 Greenville, S.C. W 8-1
03/01/98 Greenville, S.C. L 4-8
02/28/98 Greenville, S.C. W 6-5
02/28/98 Greenville, S.C. W 4-0
02/13/94 Greenville, S.C. L 3-8
02/12/94 Greenville, S.C. W 8-5
02/12/94 Greenville, S.C L 2-3

A Slow Start
Miami has opened the season 0-2 for the second time in three years but only the third time during the eight-year tenure of Head Coach Dan Simonds.

The RedHawks were also 0-2 in 2011 -- falling to Marshall and College of Charleston -- in 2009 (a three-game sweep by Charleston) and 2008 (losses to Arizona State, Oregon State and Vanderbilt).

Welcome Aboard
The 2013 roster has 12 new faces, including nine true freshmen. The elder newcomers on the team are junior college transfer Matt Packer and sophomore Tommy Ricciardi.

Preseason Accolades
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.

Dearly Departed
Miami graduated a total of seven players off of the 2012 roster, including three everyday position players and two instrumental pitchers.

The RedHawks must replace outfielders Bryce Redeker and Ryan Curl and second baseman Ryan Brenner. Shawn Marquardt and Matt Rosinski were Miami’s No. 1 pitcher and closer, respectively.

Other seniors who completed their eligibility were reliever Joe Neff and utilityman Pat Glass.

Going Yard
Senior Alex Johnson hit Miami’s first home run of 2012 on Sunday. He tagged a 2-1 pitch for a three-run shot in the top of the eighth against Furman.
It was Johnson’s first home run as a RedHawk.

A year ago, Miami had only 10 long balls all season, although Kevin Bower hit the team’s first during the season opener at Furman.

Sitting Them Down
Senior Brooks Fiala stuck out seven batters in just five innings of work in last week’s season opener vs. Northwestern.

The performance marked the sixth 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. He has struck out eight batters once and seven on four occasions now.

Double-Digits Hits
Two days after registering just three hits against Northwestern, Miami reached double digits with 10 against Furman.

A year ago, when the Redhawks batted .292, Miami had at least 10 hits on 36 occasions.

Hit Streaks
Only two Miami players have hit safely in both games this season -- seniors Alex Johnson and Kevin Bower.

Sophomore Matt Honchel ended the 2012 campaign on a 16-game streak and had a hit in the opener before going )-for-3 against Furman on Sunday.

Future RedHawks
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.

Preseason Picks
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

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