Miami University’s club baseball has never made it to the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) regional tournament, an honor reserved for conference winners. Miami, which is in the Mid-Atlantic West Conference, had a season like it's never seen before in 2022-23. The RedHawks went 14-1 in conference (and 26-6-1 overall) and ran away with the Mid-Atlantic West this year.
The program has seen a meteoric rise. Last season, the RedHawks finished the conference slate 9-6, good enough for third place. In 2018-19, the next most recent season where COVID-19 didn’t cancel the regional tournament, Miami was 6-8 and finished fourth. The year before that, in 2017-18, the RedHawks were 1-14.
This year, Miami started the season by sweeping the University of Cincinnati. Then the RedHawks swept Ohio University and the University of Dayton. They dropped one game out of three to Ohio State University (the five-time reigning conference champion) in mid-April, then beat Dayton again and swept the University of Kentucky to close out the season. Miami stormed to a regular season conference title and punched their tickets to the NCBA regional. At the end of the year, the RedHawks were ranked No. 6 in the nation.
So Miami headed to Charleston, West Virginia, for the double-elimination regional tournament. The RedHawks were hoping to win three or four games and punch their tickets to the Club Baseball World Series, which will take place from May 26 to June 2, in Alton, Illinois.
In game one against the four-seed East Carolina (ECU) Pirates, senior information systems and analytics major Lucas Platt, the team’s ace who finished the season with a 1.71 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched, stranded runners on first and third in the top of the first inning. Miami then grabbed a run on a passed ball in the bottom of the frame.
In the top of the second, Platt lost the zone and the Pirates scored four. Miami’s bats couldn’t get much going the rest of the game. The ‘Hawks stranded runners in a few of the remaining innings, and the game finished 5-1 in favor of ECU.
Platt, who was returning to Oxford for his graduation following Friday’s game, implores his team to make it to the championship on Sunday.
After that, it was back to the hotel.
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Miami would be playing at 10 a.m. the following day, barring any rain which was expected to hit Charleston around the late morning. The team went to dinner and retired early in anticipation of its biggest game of the season.
The rain stayed away on Saturday morning, and the game started on time.
The RedHawks were playing the loser of Friday’s other opening game, North Carolina State. Win, and they’d get another shot at East Carolina, who had lost the first game of the winner’s bracket to Virginia Tech the night before. Win and then beat East Carolina in the next game, and the RedHawks would have had to beat Virginia Tech twice on Sunday to be crowned Mid-Atlantic region champions.
Saturday’s game was a closer one. Miami’s offense exploded for four runs in the bottom of the third inning to take the lead 5-3, but NC State scored five in the fourth to take it back 5-8. By the start of the sixth inning, the game was 8-9 in favor of NC State. That’s where the score would stay.
Miami had not lost two games in a row all year. The RedHawks had gone nearly undefeated in their conference slate, and they had come into the tournament as the number one seed and the sixth ranked squad in the nation. And their season was over, less than 24 hours after they had arrived in West Virginia.
After the game on Saturday, the team huddled up for its post-mortem, then went its separate ways. Sophomore SLAM and data analytics major Evan Vigorito was driving the 12 hours back to his home town of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, directly after the game.
“I’m hoping to get back by about 2 a.m.,” Vigorito said.
Schreiner was headed back to Oxford with his mom to pack up his house before he made the drive back home to Orchard Park, New York. Swincicki was off to his hometown of New Albany, Ohio, for a day, before he returned to Oxford for his last few days in town. Swincicki took a job with the World Pickleball Tour as a Tour Coordinator. He starts next month, and he’ll be traveling all over the country.
The RedHawks expect to return a majority of their roster next season, including most of their starters. The team will be hard-pressed to replace its ace Platt, and Swincicki, one of its best hitters. Senior finance major Jimmy Sikorovsky, senior kinesiology major Caleb Twiss and senior accountancy major Preston Buscher have also played their last games with Miami club baseball.
It was a heartbreaking end to a record-breaking season for Miami club baseball. The season started in October and lasted till May, before two losses in less than 24 hours ended it. Rest assured, the RedHawks will be back.