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RedHawks Take 1 of 3

Senior infielder Ryan Elble steps up to bat versus Wright State University. Elble has a .260 batting average, 34 hits and 16 RBIs on the season.

Photo by Andrew Katko

By Daniel Taylor, Staff Writer

The Miami University baseball team entered the weekend's three-game series against Kent State University tied for eighth in the MAC and excluded from the MAC tournament. Miami (9-31, 7-11 Mid-American Conference) left the weekend in ninth, but are now in contention for the final tournament spot.

Kent State (23-17, 11-7 MAC) secured sole possession of first place in the MAC East.

RedHawk manager Danny Hayden said it's easy to second guess the series and look at it as a missed opportunity.

"It is frustrating because offensively we're just underperforming," Hayden said.

Tempers flared after the series opener on Friday.

The 'Hawks had the game-tying run on third with two out in the ninth, but junior Jacob Wolf struck out to end the game.

The Golden Flashes were exuberant in victory, and several MU players took exception to the celebration.

Sophomore Ryan Marske was displeased and came ten feet out of the dugout to jaw with Kent State redshirt senior Josh Pierce.

The coaches and umpires eased the tension before anything happened.

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"Kent State was excited they won, our guys were frustrated that we lost," Hayden said. "Honestly I don't have any issue with it."

Rain pushed Saturday's matchup into a double header on Sunday.

Sophomore Jacob Banks took the ball in the first game and had his best performance of the season.

Banks threw 8.1 innings of one-run baseball for the Red and White.

"I'm still scratching my head for Jacob Banks," Hayden said. "To go out there and do that to a good team and to not win the game."

Hayden was upset with a bang-bang call at first base that could have ended the inning on a double play. The play was called as a fielder's choice and allowed the lone Kent State run to reach the plate.

"Our first base umpire made a bad call and called the guy safe," Hayden said.

Senior Ryan Powers started game two for the RedHawks, an unfamiliar place for the usual Friday starter.

Powers tossed his first career complete game, holding the Golden Flashes to six hits and no runs, while walking only one batter and striking out eight.

"Powers was a man amongst boys," Hayden said of his 6-foot-5 righty. "That's as locked in as I've seen him this season."

Hayden said Powers would remain the Sunday starter for the rest of the season.

Freshman Gus Graham allowed two earned runs on back-to-back homeruns in six innings Friday.

"I'm sure it was a huge confidence builder for him," Hayden said. "But it was huge for us to see as a coaching staff. Up until Friday, he was a freshman. But Friday, he became a pitcher."

Despite MU senior Max Andresen's lack of production at the dish and .189 batting average, he played a role in the back-to-back homeruns Sunday.

Andresen launched the ball over right centerfield wall, immediately after redshirt sophomore Adam Yacek hit his fifth homer of the season.

It was Andresen's first homerun of the 2015 campaign.

Hayden said he is conscious of the matchups and wants to pick his spots with the senior catcher.

"We're trying to be smart with Max," Hayden said. "We were kind of stubborn at the beginning of the year, just throwing him out there every time."

With the arrival of the final weeks of the regular season, Miami must make a push to reach the MAC tournament in Avon Lake, Ohio.

The 'Hawks currently sit one game out of the eighth spot and have nine MAC games left.

Hayden said the team knows what is at stake in the final weeks.

"For us to not get to that point [MAC tournament] would not be acceptable," Hayden said. "We've got to get there, but we're going to have a big run in us."

Miami's next games are a home and home series with Eastern Kentucky University. The first game is Tuesday in Richmond, Kentucky. The two teams will meet again Wednesday night in Oxford.

The Colonels currently sit at 15-24 overall and are 8-12 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

First pitch for both games is 6 p.m.