The opening game of the 2016 MAC Tournament proved to be an entertaining match-up between the third and sixth seeded teams in the conference as Miami downed Central Michigan 10-5. The RedHawks (26-27, 14-10 MAC) goes on to face the winner of two-seed Ball State and seven-seed Chippewas (21-35, 12-12 MAC) at 4:30 tomorrow, while Central Michigan takes on the loser of that game at 9:30 a.m. in an elimination game.
The Chips struck quickly with an RBI that was preceded by a triple by first baseman Alex Borglin that was enabled by a misplayed ball by Miami outfielder Jake Romano in the first inning. A throwing error by second baseman Chad Sedio later in the inning doubled CMU's lead and the Chips' tacked on another run in the third with an RBI from outfielder Daniel Robinson.
The RedHawks began to rally in the bottom of third as they had the bases juiced with one out, and a sacrifice fly ball by first baseman Ross Haffey finally got them on the board. Miami had the bases loaded again with two outs in the inning, but a strikeout by Sedio ended the scoring opportunity.
The 'Hawks crept closer to the Chippewas' lead in the following inning with a bunt-RBI from catcher Hayden Senger, and they took the lead in the inning with a sac-fly from second baseman Steve Sada and a three-run homer by Haffey. Central Michigan answered with a RBI single in the bottom of the inning from outfielder Dazon Cole, which led to Miami starting pitcher Cole Gnetz being replaced by Shane Smith after 91 pitches in the game.
Pinch hitter Julian Flannery extended the RedHawks' lead in the seventh with a ground-rule double that put two across the plate, and RBIs from third baseman Adam Yacek and Senger put the score 10-4 in favor of Miami. Chippewa shortstop Zach McKinstry delivered a RBI in the ninth but it was too little, too late as the 'Hawks advance in the tournament.
Senger and Romano each went 2-4 on the day for the Red and White in a game where the team collected 10 hits in the win. Central Michigan had similar success at the plate with 12 hits on the day with left fielder Ryan Heeke going 4-5 along with a RBI and a 3-5 effort from Borglin.
The pitchers of Miami came up huge as four earned runs and eight strikeouts between Gnetz and Smith, while Sean Renzi struggled in his start by allowing six runs on seven hits before leaving after six innings.