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Recap: Miami baseball wins first MAC series of 2024 with victory over Central Michigan

Patrick Mastrian IV allowed six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in the first game of the series
Patrick Mastrian IV allowed six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in the first game of the series

After suffering a sweep in the first Mid-American Conference (MAC) series of the season against Bowling Green State University, the Miami University RedHawks baseball team returned to McKie Field at Hayden Park from March 15-17 looking for a better result.

Despite a loss in the final game, the RedHawks earned their first conference wins of the season, taking the series against the Central Michigan University Chippewas by two games to one.

Game 1: 3-2 win

Baseball can be an exhilarating sport at times. At others, it’s easy to understand why many are turned away. 

The RedHawks did not score a run and registered only seven hits through the first eight innings of this game.

The pitching staff managed to get them through relatively unscathed. Redshirt junior Patrick Mastrian IV allowed one run in the first inning and another in the sixth, but he otherwise had a good outing, pitching five innings, allowing six hits, walking one and striking out five.

Junior Peyton Olejnik threw four innings after coming in relief of Mastrian with the bases loaded, allowing only one runner to cross home plate. He only allowed two hits and struck out nine hitters over the course of his outing.

The Miami offense was thwarted by the Chippewas’ starter, junior lefty Adam Mrakitsch, who pitched eight innings and totaled 130 pitches. He struck out 11 RedHawk hitters, allowed seven hits, walked two batters and allowed zero runs to score.

After Mrakitsch walked off the mound with more pep in his step than before, it was graduate student right-hander Bryce Hellgeth’s turn to close the game out in the ninth.

But eight innings without offense doesn’t mean the game is over. 

First-year Justin Gorski, who was pinch-hitting in the bottom of the ninth, began the Miami rally with a stand-up triple. Sophomore infielder Tyler Gordon then beat out a throw to record a single and put Gorski across the plate for the RedHawks’ first run of the game.

With some good baserunning on a single from junior Ty Batusich, Gordon was able to make his way to third before sliding under a tag (that was reviewed) at home plate following a bunt from junior outfielder Zach MacDonald.

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Then, with two runners on and a chance to win the game, junior catcher David Novak stepped into the batter’s box and shot a single up the middle, bringing a runner home and giving Miami its first conference win of the season in dramatic fashion.

Game 2: 15-6 win

The first game was a pitching duel with late excitement. The second game was the opposite in many ways. 

The RedHawks struggled again to get through the Chippewas’ starter, senior righty Keegan Batka, and were behind 5-2 by the time he was removed from the game after the fifth inning.

But that gave the RedHawks more time to ignite the offensive firepower. 

In the sixth and seventh innings alone, the RedHawks’ hitters scored nine runs, and then scored another four in the eighth for good measure. 

The top of the RedHawks’ lineup – Batusich, MacDonald and redshirt junior Ryland Zaborowski – went a combined 11-for-16 at the plate with 11 RBIs and two walks.

After the RedHawks’ starter, junior right-hander Landen Looper, only lasted one inning on the mound, the bullpen came in and did the job as well as manager Brian Smiley could have asked for. 

Two lefty sophomores, Luke Ross and Connor Preisel, pitched well, and graduate student right-hander Lukas Galdoni earned the win.

Game 3: 5-2 loss

Looking for the series sweep following two gutsy comebacks, the RedHawks never felt out of the third game despite falling behind early again. They managed to load the bases three separate times throughout the nine innings, but nothing came of the opportunities.

The first six hitters in the Miami batting order went a combined 3-for-23 against the Chippewas pitching. 

For the RedHawks, Novak was the best player of the day, ending with three walks and one hit on one registered at-bat. 

Novak walked in the bottom of the ninth to load the bases against the Central Michigan closer Hellgeth, whom Chippewas manager Jake Sabol put on the mound to try and earn a win after his issues on Friday. But the rally was ended, and Hellgeth managed to exact his revenge, salvaging a win for CMU, ending their 13-game losing streak.

The RedHawks ended the series with a record of 7-10 (2-4 MAC record), and the Chippewas headed home with a record of 4-16 (1-5).