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MU takes two from BG, moves into sole possesion of third place in MAC East

By Tom Downey
On May 5, 2014

The Miami University baseball team was tied for third place with Bowling Green State University in the Mid-American Conference East standings entering a three-game weekend series, but the RedHawks seized third place outright by taking two of three from the Falcons.

The RedHawks (22-25, 12-9 MAC) are a half-game back of second place in the MAC East and two games back of first place. The 'Hawks won the series opener 5-4 Friday thanks to a walk-off hit by sophomore designated hitter Gary Russo in the bottom of the 10th inning and took the second game 3-1 Saturday after a dominate performance by junior pitcher Nathan Williams. The RedHawks were unable to sweep the series, as the Falcons (21-22, 11-10 MAC) got a complete five-hit shutout from redshirt freshman Andrew Lacinak to win 5-0 Sunday.

"If before the weekend you said we won two of three I would have said that was a good weekend," manager Danny Hayden said. "It's frustrating that I think we let one get away today [Sunday]. I don't think that kid [Lacinak] was good enough to beat us. I don't think that team is good enough to beat us. But, they showed us they were today. They proved that they were good enough to beat us today. We didn't do a whole lot to keep them from beating us."

Miami senior ace Seth Varner (6-2, 2.38 ERA) continued his impressive season Friday, throwing 8 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk.

"Just wake up in the eight inning when Varner's pitching and see what the score is," Hayden said. "He's about as automatic as we got on our team. He has been unbelievable."

He struck out eight batters, but received a no-decision after junior Ryan Powers (6-3, 4.48 ERA) blew the save by allowing two runs in the top of the ninth.

Powers got the win though, as Russo bailed out the RedHawks with a one-out RBI double in the bottom of the 10th. Freshman second baseman Steve Sada started the inning off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior third baseman Dan Walsh. Bowling Green then intentionally walked sophomore outfielder Chad Sedio, who had one hit in his last 17 at-bats, to put runners on first and second with one out for Russo. Russo lined the first pitch of the at-bat deep into left field for the walk-off hit.

"It was definitely dramatic," Hayden said. "It was good one to win. That would have been a tough pill to swallow if we'd lost that one."

Hayden said he likely would have walked Sedio if he were managing BG, as that is the "by-the-book" move.

"I probably would have done it the way they did it," Hayden said. "But, it's a much more comfortable dugout over here when you've got Gary Russo up with a guy on second then it is over there when you're trying to get Gary Russo out. I wouldn't trade places with them."

Russo said aside from an intra-squad walk-off hit this fall, he can't remember the last time he's had a walk-off hit.

"I couldn't tell you," Russo said. "I'll definitely remember this one though, that's for sure."

Miami took the second game of the series behind an impressive performance from junior Nathan Williams, who bounced back from a rough game in his last outing when he gave up eight earned runs in just 2 2-3 innings.

Williams went 8 2-3 innings against the Falcons, allowing one earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out seven.

"I don't know what happened last week, but that's the Nate Williams we're used to," Hayden said. "That's pretty fun to watch when he's pitching like that."

Miami picked up its third run of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, thanks to an RBI-triple from junior shortstop Ryan Elble that almost didn't count. Elble hit a deep fly ball off the top of the right field wall that was incorrectly ruled an out and later a double-play by first base umpire Jon Milesky. Hayden quickly left the dugout to argue the call.

"The umpire just made a mistake," Hayden said. "As soon as I went out there and asked him, he said 'Oh my god, I blew it.' He made a mistake... He knew it right away and they ended up making the right call. So that was good. It happens."

Elble was perplexed by the call.

"I was more confused than anything," Elble said. "I know I saw it hit off the fence, so I didn't really know what was going on. [Third base coach Jeremy] Ison just said 'Stay at third and you'll be here,' so I was glad they were able to figure it out and get it right."

The ball bounced straight up off the very top of the wall, meaning the hit should have been a home run, not a triple and certainly not a double-play as was originally called.

Miami failed to pull out the sweep on senior day, as Lacinak shut down the Miami bats in the Falcons' 5-0 win. The RedHawks recorded just five hits to BG's 15.

"We did not swing the bats near good enough to win a baseball game," Hayden said. "That was a bad offensive day for us. Sometimes you tip your cap to other pitcher and sometimes they look better in the batter's box than they do from the dugout. But I couldn't figure out why we didn't put better swings on them today, but we didn't."

The RedHawks head to Columbus to take on Ohio State University at 6:35 Tuesday. Senior Charlie Suich is the probable starter for the RedHawks.

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