’Hawks hit hot streak during Florida swing
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 18, 2013 23:03
While many Miami University students were lounging on sun-soaked beaches this break, the University’s baseball team was taking in the rays in Orlando; albeit, sweating away on the diamond. The RedHawks recorded a 5-2 record while in the Sunshine State.
Miami won its first four games in the Russ Matt Invitational, which included a 4-2 thriller against Illinois State University, a 12-3 routing of Fairfield University, an 8-1 beating of Long Island University and an 18-1 throttling of North Dakota State University. The combined total score of the first four games was 42-7 in favor of the Red and White.
Miami had two batters above the .300 mark for the first time this year in freshman infielder Adam Yacek and junior catcher John Crummy.
“We put guys in scoring position almost every game and every inning,” junior catcher Nate Bowles said. “We played great baseball over the break.”
The final three games saw the RedHawks struggle a little bit late in games, going 1-2. After a 5-0 lead versus Army, the Knights came back with a vengeance late in the game, scoring ten runs combined in the seventh and eighth innings off of three separate Miami pitchers. Miami rebounded the next day with a 6-0 shutout over Navy, but could not quite rally in Saturday’s 9-6 loss against Valparaiso University, in what was the first game an opponent scored before the RedHawks.
“I felt pretty good coming in,” Head Coach Dan Simonds said. “Coming off a tough weekend at Mercer, the guys were chomping at the bit … and anxious to get back on the field and get things going.”
Though the trip to Orlando was valuable in that the Red and White faced quality teams, it was also an opportunity for players to get some experience, as Miami mixed the lineup up a bit and had a chance to experiment with its still-gelling roster.
“We got a chance to pitch some different guys and to also play some different guys,” Simonds said. “The main purpose of that trip is to just come together as a team, to become a lot more unified, and just grow together.”
Of the Miami players that really shined through on the trip, none were as impressive as senior pitcher Brooks Fiala, who earned wins against Illinois State and Navy. In the Navy game he posted a career-high 13 strikeouts en route to a complete game shutout that saw him surrender just two hits and a walk. On the season, Fiala is 2-2, and has fanned 40 batters through 34 innings.
“He had two great outings, and should probably get national recognition for what he did both games,” Simonds said. “It was a tremendous outing [against Navy] and it was great to see.”
Offensively, two RedHawks are still above the .300 mark in the batting average category, with freshman outfielder Jake Romano sporting a hefty .381, though it is only through 21 at-bats. Sophomore outfielder Matt Honchel sits at .323 through 60 at-bats, and sports the most hits and runs of any RedHawk, with 20 and 18, respectively. Just shy of .300 is senior first baseman Kevin Bower, who maintains a team-leading five doubles, and at a .298 batting average has 17 hits, including one home run.
The RedHawks will participate in a home and home series against Indiana, playing 4 p.m. Tuesday, in Oxford and 6 p.m. Wednesday, in Bloomington.