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Cardiac ’Hawks take three-of-four on weekend

<p>The entire Miami bench mobs outfielder Nate Stone after his walk-off home run Saturday.</p>

The entire Miami bench mobs outfielder Nate Stone after his walk-off home run Saturday.

Miami baseball isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s certainly fun to watch.

The RedHawks took three-of-four this past weekend against Northern Illinois University (NIU). They came from behind in all three wins and walked-off in two of them. 

The third win was sealed by a chaotic final play at the plate. In both walk-off wins, the ’Hawks didn’t lead until the final at-bat.

FRIDAY

Miami started the series with a 4-3 win over Northern Illinois.

Going into the bottom of the eighth inning, it was 3-0 Huskies. NIU scored one in the fourth — when Kam Smith came around on a throwing error by senior shortstop Tyler Wardwell — and two in the top of the eighth, when both Smith and Nick Drobushevich were knocked in on a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center field by Dylan Lonteen.

In their half of the eighth, the RedHawks cut the NIU lead to one. Pinch hitter Jacob Hensor, a first-year infielder, singled up the middle to lead off the frame. After a Stephen Krause strikeout, Benji Brokemond, a redshirt-freshman outfielder, walked. 

Both runners advanced a batter later after the Huskies hurler uncorked a wild pitch. With runners on second and third and two outs, redshirt-freshman right fielder Nate Stone grounded a ball through the infield to drive in both runs. 

After senior pitcher Logan Schmitt shut down NIU in the top of the ninth, junior designated hitter Cole Andrews started the bottom of the inning by striking a double into the left field corner. 

Mac Hippenhammer, a speedy junior outfielder, came in to pinch run for him. A batter later, NIU pitcher Paul Turelli lost control of a breaking ball that hit Wardell. Then, first-year infielder Nick Clark walked on four pitches. 

Next, Turelli walked in the tying run; he couldn’t find the zone on a full-count pitch to Krause. One pitch later, Turelli spiked a breaking ball that got by the NIU catcher, and without hesitation, Wardwell broke for home. The RedHawk shortstop dove under Turelli’s tag and was mobbed by teammates behind home plate. 

The RedHawks first walk-off of the weekend was completed. 

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Redshirt-senior pitcher Grant Hartwig was excellent in the win; the big righty threw 7.2 innings and gave up just two earned runs, striking out 11 in the process.

SATURDAY

The first leg of Saturday’s doubleheader went to 11 innings. Miami came out on top once again.

Sam Bachman, the 29th ranked Major League Baseball draft prospect according to MLB.com, started for the RedHawks. The junior righty pitched three innings and struck out all nine batters he faced. Bachman even touched 101 mph with his fastball.

The game was scoreless until the sixth, when Lonteen tripled to score Smith — who was on first after a single — for the Huskies.

In the bottom of the same inning, The RedHawks knotted it back up. Brokemond swatted a single through the right side of the infield and promptly swiped second. Later in the inning, he was tripled home by graduate second baseman Will Vogelgesang.

Both teams’ pitchers dueled it out until the bottom of the eleventh. To start the inning, First-year left fielder Dalton Back cuffed a single to left field to lead off the inning for Miami. 

Up next, Stone bashed a 2-2 pitch over the 384 sign in right-center to walk it off for the RedHawks once again. 

After the second chaotic celebration of the weekend — and a 45 minute break — the teams gathered back on the diamond to do it all again.

Northern Illinois got out to an early lead in game two. Junior right hander Jonathan Brand got roughed up for the RedHawks; he gave up six earned runs in 4 innings. 

The RedHawks were down 4-0 going into the bottom of the third, after a first inning three-run-homer by Smith and a sacrifice fly from Jacob Schroeder in the third.

They cut the NIU lead to one in the bottom of the third. Senior first baseman Michael Morissette doubled to right-center field to score sophomore infielder Billy Kopicki, who was on base after being hit by a pitch. 

Brokemond, up next, bunted for a single, advancing Morissette to third, then again stole second. Morrissette scored later in the inning on a wild pitch, and Brokemond came around the next at bat after a throwing error by  the Huskies second baseman (ironically) Alex Rodriguez.

After two more NIU runs in the top of the fourth, Miami cut the lead to one once again; consecutive singles by Back and Stone drove in two runs.

The RedHawks took the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Brokemond tied the game with a double that drove in Kopicki, and Stone drove in Morrissette with a ground out to first.

They wouldn’t relinquish the lead. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Morgan Holmes doubled to deep center for NIU. Malik Peters, originally on first, flew around third on the hit. Brokemond hit Kopicki with a cutoff throw, and the sophomore fired the ball to senior catcher Nate Stolze, who applied the tag just in time to get the speedy Peters at home plate. 

SUNDAY

Miami couldn’t complete the series sweep monday; they fell 10-7 to NIU.

The RedHawks went down 4-0 once again early, but clawed back into the game. After five, Miami was in the lead 7-5. Then, the huskies scored two in the sixth, two in the eighth, and got another insurance run in the top of the ninth. 

For the first time in the weekend, the RedHawks found a deficit they couldn’t overcome, and were shut out after the fifth.

WHAT’S NEXT

Miami falls to second in the MAC despite the series win, trailing Ball State by just one game.

The ’Hawks travel to Ypsilanti, Mich., next weekend for a four-game series against Eastern Michigan University. 

@jacksmerz

schmelj2@miamioh.edu

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