Miami Takes Two From Bowling Green In Key Weekend Series

USA TODAY Sports

Miami and BGSU are in the thick of the race for seeding in the 2014 MAC baseball tournament. The RedHawks took two of three from the Falcons to move into sole possession of fifth-place and gain an all-important tiebreaker edge.

Miami welcomed Bowling Green to Oxford, Ohio for a very important weekend series with just a few weeks remaining until the MAC Tournament.  Both teams entered the series at 10-8 in the MAC, so each game held a lot of importance for potential seeding purposes.

Despite giving up a ninth-inning lead in the first game, the RedHawks won the first game in extra innings.  They concluded the weekend by splitting a pair of games that featured outstanding pitching performances, and won two of three games in the series.

Here's how it all went down...

GAME 1 - MIAMI 5, Bowling Green 4 (10 inn.)

Miami came back from what could have been a devastating blown lead in the ninth inning to capture a 5-4 victory over Bowling Green in 10 innings on Friday night.

BGSU opened the game's scoring in the fourth inning.  Trey Keegan and Patrick Lancaster both hit singles, and Keegan later scored on an error.  That lead would last until the bottom of the fifth.

In that fifth inning, John Crummy led off with a four-pitch walk.  He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, then trotted home to tie the game at 1 thanks to a Scott Slappey double.  In Miami's next at-bat, the RedHawks broke the tie with two more runs.  With two outs, Gary Russo and Max Andresen both laced base hits through the BGSU defense.  An errant throw by Jesse Rait in right field allowed Russo to score from first, and Andresen followed him home after a single by Crummy.

Bowling Green cut the lead to 3-2 with a run in the seventh inning when Jake Thomas singled home Logan Walker with two outs.  However, Miami earned that run back in the eighth.  Andresen launched a bomb over the center field fence for a 4-2 lead.  The solo homer was just his second long ball of the season.

In the ninth, Ryan Powers relieved starter Seth Varner.  He hit Lancaster with a pitch to start the inning but then retired the next two batters.  Rait drew a walk to keep the Falcons alive, and Brian Bien made Powers pay for the extra opportunity.  His two-out double scored both Lancaster and Rait, and BGSU tied the game at 4.

The game went to extra innings after BGSU held Miami scoreless in the bottom of the ninth.  The Falcons did not cross the plate in the tenth, and that gave Miami a chance to walk off with a win.  Steve Sada drove a single over shortstop to start the frame and was sacrificed to second.  After an intentional walk, Gary Russo cranked a double to the left-field wall, and Sada easily scored the game-winner.

Varner threw extremely well and allowed only two runs (one earned) and six hits in eight innings.  However, he was credited with a no-decision when Powers allowed a pair of ninth-inning runs to blow the 4-2 lead.  Powers pitched a scoreless tenth inning and earned the win when Miami scored in the bottom half.

Mike Frank also pitched eight innings but was not quite as effective for BGSU.  He allowed four runs (three earned) and nine hits.  However, he also struck out eight and walked only one batter.  Ethan McKenney picked up the loss by allowing the run in the tenth inning.

Four Miami players had multiple hits, and Russo and Andresen led the way.  Russo was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI, while Andresen scored two and drove in one while earning hits in two of his four at-bats.  BGSU was led by Bien, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI.

GAME 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Bowling Green 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 4 8 2
Miami 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 0 1 5 11 2
WP: Powers (6-3)
LP: McKenney (0-1)

GAME 2 - MIAMI 3, Bowling Green 1

Miami won a pitchers' duel between Nathan Williams and Brett Fitzwater to official capture the victory in the weekend series.  Williams came within one out of a complete game win as the RedHawks downed the Falcons 3-1.

Miami opened the scoring when Steve Sada lined a lead-off single to center in the first inning and immediately came around to score when Dan Walsh roped a two-strike triple into the right field corner.  Miami might have scored again, but Walsh was doubled off third base after a line drive out to first baseman Jeremy Shay by Chad Sedio.

BGSU had also threatened in the first but could not score.  Jeremy Shay was drilled by a Williams pitch with two out and made it all the way to third after an errant throw when Shay tried to steal second.  He was left at third when Williams induced a fly out to end the inning.

The Falcons managed to tie the game in the fourth when Shay came up to bat again.  After Jake Thomas struck out in the lead-off position, Shay walked.  T.J. Losby drilled the next pitch for a double, and Shay trotted home with the equalizer.

The score remained tied at 1 until the bottom of the fifth.  John Crummy was nailed by a Fitzwater throw on the first pitch of the inning, and Matt Honchel singled him to second.  Scott Slappey followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners over.  Ryan Elble lofted a deep fly to center, and Crummy scored for a 2-1 Miami lead.

BGSU had two-out scoring opportunities with a runner at second in the sixth inning and a runner at third in the seventh, but failed on both attempts.  Miami made the Falcons pay in the bottom of the seventh with an insurance run.

Against reliever Devin Daugherty, Honchel singled to begin the frame, and Slappey sacrificed him to second.  Elble then hit a triple that easily brought Honchel home with the RedHawks' third run.

Williams took that 3-1 lead to the ninth and struck out the first two batters.  It looked as if he'd finish off the win, but he gave up a single to Andrew Kubuski.  Logan Walker then drew a four-pitch walk to chase Williams from the game.  Brad Schwartz came in to face pinch-hitter Matt Smith and induced a grounder to second for the final out of the game.

Williams allowed only one run and four hits in 8 2/3 innings.  He struck out seven and walked three.  He also hit three batters.  He improved to 4-6 with the victory, and Schwartz earned his first save of the season.  Fitzwater dropped to 1-2 with the loss.  He allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.

Honchel was the only Miami player with multiple hits, as he went 2-for-3.  Elble was 1-for-2 and drove in two runs.  For BGSU, Losby drove in the Falcons' only run.  He was one of four players to record one hit for Bowling Green.

GAME 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Bowling Green 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 1
Miami 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 X 3 7 2
WP: Williams (4-6)
LP: Fitzwater (1-2)
SV: Schwartz (1)

GAME 3 - Bowling Green 5, MIAMI 0

Andrew Lacinak threw a complete game five-hitter to earn his fifth win of the season and salvage one of the weekend's games for Bowling Green.  BGSU's offense erupted for its most runs of any of the three games, and the Falcons earned a 5-0 victory.

The Falcons immediately threatened in the first inning but failed to score.  Jake Thomas laced a one-out single to right but was promptly caught stealing at second base.  Jeremy Shay and T.J. Losby drew back-to-back walks, and Andrew Kubuski then loaded the bases with a single.  However, Logan Walker was called out on strikes to end the threat.

Miami's defense returned the favor by gift-wrapping two runs in the second inning for BGSU.  Patrick Lancaster reached on an error by first baseman John Crummy to lead off the inning.  Brandon Howard walked after Lancaster stole second, and Jesse Rait was called on to bunt.  He laid down a solid attempt, but pitcher Charles Zubrod tried to retire Lancaster at third.

Zubrod's throw was wild and went all the way down the left field line.  Lancaster scored easily, and Howard came around all the way from first to score a second run.  Rait reached second on the error and moved to third on a sacrifice by Brian Bien.  However, he was thrown out at home when he attempted to score on a grounder to shortstop by Thomas.

Bowling Green took complete control of the game in the third inning with two more runs.  Kubuski singled with one out but remained at first after a strikeout by Walker.  Lancaster salvaged the inning with a single, then Howard rocketed a triple into the right field corner.  Kubuski and Lancaster scored to make it a 4-0 game.

The Falcons concluded the scoring with a run in the eighth when Jeremy Shay singled home Bien.

Miami threatened several times against Lacinak in the first five innings.  They had runners in scoring position and less than two out in four of the first five innings, but they went 0-for-9 with runners at second or third.  The most egregious example was in the fifth, when down 4-0, Miami loaded the bases with nobody out.  Lacinak got out of the jam by inducing a fly out to left and a 4-6-3 double play.

Lacinak settled down and retired 14 of the final 16 batters.  He allowed only five hits and two walks while striking out three during his nine innings.  Miami's Zubrod took the loss by allowing four runs (two earned) and 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Bien earned three hits while Lancaster posted four for BGSU.  Howard was 2-for-4 and drove in two.  Max Andresen went 2-for-4 for Miami in the losing effort.

GAME 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Bowling Green 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 5 15 0
Miami 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 2
WP: Lacinak (5-3)
LP: Zubrod (0-2)

-----------------------------------------------------

The series victory improves Miami's record to 22-25 overall and 12-9 in Mid-American Conference play.  The RedHawks now own fifth place in the MAC standings and trail fourth-place Buffalo by just one-half game.

Miami plays their last mid-week game of the season on Tuesday when they travel to Ohio State.  They'll follow that with a huge weekend series against those fourth-place Bulls.  The RedHawks close the season in two weeks against the Ohio Bobcats, who are last in the Eastern Division.

Bowling Green drops to 21-22 overall and 11-10 in the MAC.  The Falcons are now in sixth place and trail Miami by one game.  They lead Akron (7th place) by one game and by two games over Toledo and Northern Illinois, who are tied for eighth.  The top eight teams make the MAC Tournament.

BGSU hosts Ohio next weekend for their final home series of the season.  After a mid-week game at Xavier on Tuesday, May 13, the Falcons play at Buffalo to conclude the regular season.

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