With their next nine games scheduled to be on the road, the Miami RedHawks ended their last homestand for more than two weeks on a positive note.
They rode a bounce-back performance from senior starter Bailey Martin to a 7-3 win over Northern Kentucky at Hayden Park on Wednesday.
Martin, after lasting only two innings and giving up four runs at Louisville last week, went 7.1 innings and allowed just two runs against the Norse. He surrendered six hits, walked four batters and struck out six.
"Last week, I kind of got some pressure, and it got to me a little bit," Martin said. "I've been in that situation before. With bouncing back, I'm a senior now, and I've been through the ups and downs of college baseball. I understand the nature of college baseball. Every guy, that has great, outstanding games, has had that bad game before."
He earned the victory (W, 5-2) in his longest outing of the season. The righty's previous high was six innings, which he accomplished against both Murray State and Eastern Kentucky.
"I think I really kept [the Norse] off balance with a mix of my fastball, cutter and curveball," Martin said. "I worked ahead in the count and made them hit whatever I showed."
Unlike his last start, when he received only one run of support, Martin was the beneficiary of seven RedHawk runs on Wednesday night.
"It definitely takes the pressure off and takes the edge off," Martin said. "It lets me just go out and pitch, and the other team's on their heels more."
The Norse (5-21, 4-5 Horizon) scored first on an RBI single by junior second baseman Shane Paradis in the top of the second inning.
But, in the bottom of the third, Miami (22-5, 5-1 Mid-American) knotted it up with a sacrifice fly by sophomore centerfielder Cristian Tejada.
The 1-1 tie held until the RedHawks put up three runs in the bottom of the fifth. With the bases loaded, senior rightfielder Mackay Williams and redshirt junior second baseman Jordan Stephens each walked in runs. Junior first baseman Charlie Harrigan followed with a sacrifice fly to plate the third and final run of the frame.
The only hit of the inning was a bunt single by junior shortstop Will Vogelgesang. He came around to score on Stephens' walk.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
"As far as swinging our bats, it wasn't the best day we've ever had," MU head coach Danny Hayden said. "But, I thought, offensively, it was a very good day. We did steal some bases and put a lot of pressure on them to make plays."
In the bottom of the seventh, Miami played add-on, as Vogelgesang and junior third baseman Landon Stephens attempted a double steal of third and second, respectively. Norse sophomore catcher Matt Jewell's throw got away from the third baseman and bounced into left field, allowing both RedHawks to cross home plate.
When Martin exited the ballgame with one out in the top of the eighth, Miami led 6-2.
Senior reliever Andy Almquist replaced Martin and finished the last inning and two-thirds. Northern Kentucky scratched across one unearned run off Almquist in the bottom of the eighth before being held scoreless in the ninth. The righty struck out four Norse hitters.
Miami's final run came on an NKU throwing error in the bottom of the eighth.
The RedHawks polished off a 7-3 victory to win their fourth straight. Their 22-5 start is still tied with the 1972 Miami squad for the best in program history. That year, Miami made it to 24-5 before losing again.
With three runs, three hits and three steals, Vogelgesang paced his team in all three categories.
The RedHawks start their long nine-game road trip this Friday at Toledo. The first pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m.