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Miami baseball takes midweek loss with series against Middle Tennessee State upcoming

Miami has a chance in this series against Middle Tennessee State to bounce back after a subpar start to the season
Miami has a chance in this series against Middle Tennessee State to bounce back after a subpar start to the season

Coming off a rough three-game set against the No.25 University of South Carolina Gamecocks, the Miami University RedHawks baseball team was looking to bounce back against another ranked opponent, the No. 23 Indiana University Hoosiers. 

Unfortunately, the result was not one the RedHawks wanted, but positives did come out of this matchup, just as they did in the South Carolina series.

Once again, the RedHawks took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to a home run from junior outfielder Zach MacDonald and kept the Hoosiers off the scoreboard in the bottom of the first before giving up a home run in the bottom of the second. 

Fortunately, Evan Appelwick, the redshirt sophomore and Indiana University transfer, answered back with a homer of his own, his first of the season, to give the RedHawks back their lead.

But the Hoosiers did what all good teams do, and they answered back by scoring three runs in the bottom of the third inning on a three-run home run off the bat of junior infielder Josh Pyne.

After a scoreless fourth inning for both squads, Appelwick came back up to the plate for the RedHawks and was hit by a pitch. A double by sophomore Tyler Gordon advanced Appelwick to third base and junior Ty Batusich grounded out, which allowed Appelwick to score. 

The game was tied after an RBI bunt single by MacDonald brought Gordon across home plate.

With the score tied and the RedHawks looking to take the lead, they needed a big performance from their pitcher and defense. Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards. 

The Hoosiers put up three more runs to take a 7-4 lead in the fifth and added a run on a single in the sixth to put their lead up to 8-4. 

From there, it didn’t feel as if the RedHawks would be able to make it all the way back. They gave it their best effort, putting up two more runs on a home run by junior David Novak, but that would be all. Indiana sealed the game in the eighth inning, adding four more runs to end at the final score of 12-6.

The RedHawks put up more runs against the Hoosiers than they did against South Carolina, which is a positive. It was another game early in the season against a strong opponent that the RedHawks almost won, but the wheels fell off toward the end. 

Now, the RedHawks have a chance to redeem themselves in their second full series of the 2024 season against the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders.

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The last time these two teams played each other was in February 2016, when Miami took home the victory 13-5 on the back of a six-run sixth inning and four-run ninth.

Prior to that win, the RedHawks lost the last three matchups, with one coming in February 2014 and the two prior in March 1984.

The Blue Raiders have already played one Mid-American Conference (MAC) team this season, the Bowling Green State University Falcons, who were ranked second in the preseason poll.

Middle Tennessee won two of its three games by scores of 12-8 and 5-4, with their one lost at 7-3. They also played one game against the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and lost 6-1.

There are three starters on the Blue Raiders who have accumulated at least a 1.000 OPS over the course of their four games: Luke Vinson, a senior outfielder who is batting .313; Rutter Briggs, the team’s starting catcher, hitting .438; and Gabe Jennings, a senior infielder hitting .588 and going at least 2-for-4 so far this season. 

For the RedHawks, Appelwick has been the best offensive player to this point, sporting a .273 batting average and, more impressively, a .930 OPS, the highest on the team. 

The biggest surprise to this point has been the low performance of Miami third baseman Ryland Zaborowski, who has only one hit in 12 at-bats. His batting average sits at a paltry .083 with an OPS of .520, and for a player who is expected to be a huge piece of the offense, the RedHawks need him to get going.

The RedHawks have a chance in this series to come out firing on all cylinders after a less-than-optimal start to the season. They need their hitters to continue getting on base and their pitching to improve.  This will be their final series on the road before they come home to play Wright State University on Tuesday, Feb. 27.