Photo by Andrew Katko
By Daniel Taylor, For The Miami Student
The Miami University baseball team picked up its first Mid-American Conference series victories since the March 20, winning two of three against the University of Akron.
Miami (8-28, 6-9 MAC) fought for a breakout weekend, and they reached it with the series victories over MAC East-leading Akron (18-19, 9-6 MAC). The RedHawks dropped Friday's game 7-4, but bounced back to take an 11-9 win Saturday and a 8-7 win Sunday.
Manager Danny Hayden wants the team to continue to improve and hopes that the series victory can serve as a confidence boost looking forward.
"We've played really good ball the last couple of days," Hayden said. "Our guys are figuring out that winning is pretty tough."
Hayden said the attitudes in the dugout were completely different this weekend.
Senior Ryan Powers allowed nine hits and seven runs (six earned) in seven innings of work Friday.
The offense plated four runs, two of which were earned.
Junior southpaw John Valek III gave the Zips a solid outing, allowing four hits and two runs in seven innings pitched.
On Saturday, the 'Hawks rebounded with three runs in the ninth inning to take a two-run victory.
Sophomore Jacob Banks had a rough day on the mound. Banks lasted two innings after giving up six earned runs on eight hits.
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After Banks' departure, sophomores Brad Schwartz and Ryan Marske and senior Will Schierholz combined for seven innings of six-hit, three-run baseball.
Schwartz pitched 5.1 innings, allowing all three runs and six hits, before transitioning to Markse, who bailed him out in the eighth with a double play ball.
The RedHawks came to the plate trailing 9-8.
With two out and two on, junior Jacob Wolf drove both runners in with a single to give Miami the 10-9 advantage.
Redshirt sophomore Adam Yacek played add-on with a double to score Wolf.
With an 11-9 lead, Hayden brought in Schierholz to close it out. Schierholz's two strikeouts sealed the Miami victory.
The rubber game went to extra innings after three RedHawks runs in the eighth put them in a 6-6 tie.
The Red and White took a 7-6 lead in the 11th after senior Kendall Johnson grounded into a fielder's choice, allowing the go-ahead run to trot home.
With two outs, the Zips fought against Schierholz and vied for the tying run.
Junior Jake Romano came up big with the go-ahead homer in the 13th to put Miami up 8-7.
Romano also made his mark defensely, making what Hayden called "one of the best catches you'll ever see."
Akron runners reached first and second in the bottom half of the inning, but Schierholz got the pop out to right field, giving Miami the victory and series win.
Schierholz threw over 100 pitches in 6.1 innings of relief for Miami in an effort that had Hayden amazed.
"If we were still playing, he'd probably still be out there on the mound," Hayden said. "I don't think he'd let us take him out."
Schierholz totaled a combined 8.1 innings of work in the three games. He allowed one earned run.
Despite the weekend victories, the team suffered a major loss when senior Matt Honchel suffered a lower-body injury Saturday.
Hayden wants Honchel to be checked by physicians in Oxford before speculating on the injury. There is no timetable for return.
Honchel's .383 batting average and 18 RBIs lead the team.
The RedHawks head to Wright State University for a single mid-week game.
Miami has lost both meetings with the Raiders (27-10, 13-4 Horizon League), 7-3 March 24 and 7-3 April 14.
WSU enters the game on a seven-game winning streak after taking the last two from Oakland University, both in 11 innings.
First pitch is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.