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Recap: Miami wins first series of season against Middle Tennessee before home opener

The three-game series against the Blue Raiders was a thriller, and it gave the RedHawks their first series win of the year.
The three-game series against the Blue Raiders was a thriller, and it gave the RedHawks their first series win of the year.

After losing three straight games to the No. 25 South Carolina Gamecocks and another to the No. 23 Indiana University Hoosiers, the Miami University RedHawks found themselves in a 0-4 hole with many questions about all aspects of their game. 

However, over a three-game series against the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders, Miami gained some confidence back on the mound and at the plate. 

Game one: 10-6 win (10 innings)

Eyeing their first win of the season, the Miami bats came to play, and starter Patrick Mastrian IV took the mound, looking to lead his team from the rubber. He tossed 5.1 innings and allowed six hits, two runs and one walk while striking out four.

After going down 2-1 in the third inning, Miami scored three runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead. 

A few scoreless frames later, sophomore left-hander Carson Byers gave up four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning that gave the Blue Raiders a 6-4 lead late in the game. 

The RedHawks did not quit, though, as they scored one unearned run in the eighth inning when Ryland Zaborowski came across the plate after the bases were loaded. An earned run in the ninth off a Zaborowski single (his second hit of the game in five at-bats) tied the game at 6-6.

Lukas Galdoni, the third and final pitcher the RedHawks used in the game, went for 3.1 innings and shut down the Blue Raiders offense. He allowed only two hits and two walks with three strikeouts. 

Tré Keels walked to lead off the 10th inning. Redshirt sophomore and first baseman Evan Appelwick reached on a throwing error and gave Keels a chance to come across home on an RBI bunt single by shortstop Dillon Baker. 

Designated hitter and leadoff man Ty Batusich went two for six with four RBIs, his first four-bagger of the season. A three-run home run in the 10th inning tilted the favor back to the RedHawks by a score of 7-6.

Galdoni shut the door on the Middle Tennessee hitters in the bottom of the 10th and gave the RedHawks their first win of the 2024 campaign, and Brian Smiley his first as the manager.

Game two: 8-3 loss

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With momentum heading into Saturday’s contest, the RedHawks were looking to make quick work of the Blue Raiders and take home the series victory. Early in the game, it appeared that that would be the case.

Batusich continued his strong performance from the first game and drove a single to left field in the second inning, bringing home Baker and left fielder Anthony Zarlingo.

In the fifth inning, Zarlingo hit a sacrifice fly ball to bring home center fielder Zach MacDonald to take a 3-0 lead.

The game continued with Miami’s starter, junior right-hander Peyton Olejnik, hurling 5.2 innings and allowing two hits and three walks with four strikeouts. 

The next reliever, Luke Ross, a left-handed sophomore, gave up one run in the bottom of the seventh inning after walking four players and giving up one hit. However, the wheels fell off after Ross was removed from the game.

In the bottom of the eighth, the RedHawks put three relievers on the mound to get three outs. Each of them registered only one after a series of four hits and two wild pitches (one from Tyler Galyean, who would end up with the loss on his record, and Nick DeMonica). Six earned runs would give the Blue Raiders an 8-3 win.

Game three: 17-13 win

Everyone loves it when baseball teams slug out games except for the pitchers and pitching coaches, and that’s exactly what these two teams did in the series rubber match on Sunday.

The RedHawks were down 2-1 by the end of two innings after Batusich made an impact as the leadoff hitter once again and scored on a Zarlingo sacrifice fly. However, they couldn’t find any offense in the top of the second. 

The top of the third saw Miami take a big lead that they did not give up, scoring five total runs after three straight singles from MacDonald, Zaborowski and catcher David Novak to tie the game. 

The offense added two runs in the top of the fourth inning to make the score 8-2. 

After both teams failed to register a run in the fifth inning, the offenses went off to the races.

Over the course of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, the score lines would look almost exactly the same. The RedHawks scored two compared to the Blue Raiders’ three in the sixth inning. In the seventh and eighth innings, both teams scored four and three runs. 

Middle Tennessee would add a run in the bottom of the ninth, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a previously 17-12 deficit. 

Overall, the RedHawks had five players with multi-hit games, including the top four hitters in the lineup. Batusich crossed home four separate times, MacDonald went three for five and contributed five RBIs, Zaborowski notched a two-run homer, and Novak, the cleanup hitter, made his impact felt by keeping balls in play and advancing runners with a double, a single, an RBI and a walk.

It’s also worth mentioning that Miami had all three of their starters in this series hit at least 5.0 innings of work. Sophomore Nick Vardavas earned his first win of the season by only giving up two runs and seven hits as the starter in the third game.

The game was a thriller, and it gave the RedHawks their first series win of the year.

Miami’s scheduled game against Wright State University was scheduled for 3 p.m. on Feb. 27, but it was postponed due to weather. Their next game at this point will take place on Friday, Mar. 1, against Oakland University at McKie Field in Oxford.