The Toledo Rockets visited McKie Field last weekend for Miami’s first series of Mid-American Conference (MAC) play.
The RedHawks took the series, winning three-of-four games against their cross-state conference rival.
Friday’s game was an offensive outburst for both teams, despite cold temperatures and fierce winds blowing directly in from center field.
Miami’s offense fired up early. After a first inning run from Toledo, Dalton Back, the freshman left fielder, jumped Toledo’s pitcher for a triple to right field.
Sophomore third baseman Brian Zapp, on base after a single, came around to score on the extra base hit. Later in the inning Nate Stone, a redshirt-freshman outfielder, flied a ball to left field. The ball was squeezed, but deep enough to score Back from third.
The teams traded runs the next few half innings, and when the bottom of the third started it was 3-2 in the RedHawks’ favor.
To start the frame, Back poked a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield. Stone followed him by knocking a double to right center field, advancing Back to third.
Will Vogelgesang, the second baseman and a graduate student, came through in the clutch, punching a single up the middle that brought around Back and Stone to bring the score to 5-2.
The score stayed that way until the top of the sixth. After Toledo’s junior left fielder Matt Kirk hit an infield single, sophomore catcher Marcus Stroher took a fastball to the knee.
With runners on first and second, sophomore designated hitter Ryan Thompson cleared the bases with a double that kicked around the left field corner to cut Miami’s lead to one.
The RedHawks struck back quickly, scoring two more runs the next half inning.
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First, senior first baseman Michael Morissette’s sacrifice fly drove in senior DH Stephen Krause.
Next, Mac Hippenhammer, a speedy junior outfielder, bunted for a single and stole second base two pitches later. Later in the inning, he was knocked in by Zapp, who singled to stretch the Miami lead to 7-4.
Both Miami and Toledo would go on to score twice more before the final out, bringing the final score to 9-6.
A hoard of Major League Baseball (MLB) scouts were in attendance at McKie Field Saturday afternoon to watch the RedHawks’ standout junior pitcher, Sam Bachman. Miami split the afternoon-doubleheader with Toledo.
Game one was a pitchers duel. Bachman, a potential high first-round pick in this year’s MLB first year player draft, pitched two innings and gave up the only run the Rockets would score in the contest.
Jacob Webb, a senior righty, came in and shut down the Rockets for the remaining five innings of the game.
In the top of the first, Toledo’s leadoff hitter Nicky Winterstein doubled to left field. After the Rockets’ second batter was hit by a pitch, Bachman uncorked a wild fastball that got by the catcher Stolze.
Both Toledo runners advanced, and Winterstein scored later in the inning when Trace Hatfield grounded into a 6-4-3 double play with no outs.
The lead lasted until the top of the sixth. Back hit a ground-rule double, and Nate Stolze walked. The runners moved up on a wild pitch, and scored a play later.
Cole Andrews, a junior designated hitter, tapped a ground ball to second base. Thomas Eitenar, the Rockets’ second baseman booted the soft grounder, allowing both RedHawk runners to come around.
Miami shut Toledo down in the top of the seventh to take the first game of the double header.
The RedHawks fell 4-3 to Toledo in the second game of the twin bill.
Miami took a 3-2 lead into the top of the sixth inning. Junior outfielder Danny O’Reilly drew a four-pitch walk to start the frame.
A throwing error by Zapp on the next play allowed Strother to reach base. Eitner dropped a sacrifice bunt down the first base line on the next pitch, advancing both Toledo runners.
With runners on second and third and one out, senior righty Logan Schmitt’s curveball got past the catcher and reached the backstop. The Rockets would score a run on the play, and the winning run came later that at bat, when Winterstein singled home Strother.
Miami came out on top once again Sunday, beating Toledo 5-2.
With Toledo leading 2-1 in the fifth inning, Back swatted a solo home run to tie the game.
The RedHawks took the lead an inning later, when Stolze doubled to left field and scored Andrews, who reached base earlier in the frame with a walk.
Miami scored their final two insurance runs an inning later. Morissette walked, and Stone was hit by a pitch. Vogelgesang came to bat, and ripped the first pitch he saw into the gap in right-center.
By the time the Rockets got the ball back into the infield, Morrissette and Stone had both come in to score, and Vogelgesang was standing on third with a triple.
The RedHawks relied on an outstanding performance in relief from Kevin Napoleon. The crafty left-handed graduate student threw 4.1 innings of scoreless ball, and gave up only three hits while striking out six.
After the weekend series, the ’Hawks are tied with Northern Illinois University for first in the MAC, with a 3-1 record.
Next weekend, Northern Illinois travels to Oxford for another four game series. Friday’s first pitch is at 5 p.m., the teams play a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1 p.m., and finish with a game on Sunday, which also starts at 1 p.m.