April 1, 2007
OXFORD, Ohio--With bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, junior right fielder Chris Niro stepped to the plate and belted the game-winning RBI single to lift Miami University's baseball team to a 16-15 come-from-behind win against the Ball State University Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, completing its second straight Mid-American Conference series sweep in as many weeks.
Trailing by as many nine runs, Miami rallied to post its ninth straight win and move to 16-9 on the season and 6-0 in MAC play. The Cardinals dropped to 11-16; 2-4 MAC. It was the first time Miami has swept a series against Ball State since 1990 when the Red and White won a two-game series against the Cardinals.
After a pitchers duel in Saturday's game, Sunday's contest was an offensive onslaught with a combined 31 runs off a collective 35 hits.
Two errors and two walks to start the first inning put Miami in a tough situation as Ball State went on to record seven runs, six unearned, off four hits and three errors. Lead-off hitter, senior centerfielder Brandon Hiller, blasted his third home run of the season to get Miami on the board, but that would be the RedHawks' lone score until the bottom of the third inning.
Sophomore shortstop Jordan Petraitis was walked and stole second in the third inning before sophomore designated hitter Eric Darlage hammered his second home run of the season to put the RedHawks within four runs of the Cardinals, 7-3.
A big fourth inning for BSU furthered its lead as the Cardinals amassed four runs to push their advantage to 11-3. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Miami sophomore catcher Josh Hula recorded his first home run of the season to help the RedHawks chip away at the Cardinal lead, 11-4.
Ball State tacked on two more runs in the top of the fifth inning, but Miami retaliated with five runs in the bottom of the inning to pull within four runs, 13-9. Senior second baseman Dan Leonard reached on an error by the shortstop and advanced to second when sophomore leftfielder Chris Nadeau was walked. Darlage belted a two-run double to score Leonard and Nadeau. Sophomore Tommy Nurre pinch hit and then entered the game for senior first baseman Jeff Carroll and singled to move Darlage to second base. Junior third baseman J.D. Mynheir nailed a three-run home run, his first homer of the season.
Again, BSU recorded two runs, extending its lead to 15-9 in the top of the sixth inning. A trio of singles by Nadeau, Darlage and Nurre led to a RedHawk run in the bottom of the sixth inning as Nurre's RBI single plated Nadeau to make the score 15-10 in favor of the Cardinals.
Miami held Ball State scoreless in the top of the seventh and moved within one, tallying four runs in the bottom of the inning. Hula and Hillier each singled and advanced to third and second, respectively, on a wild pitch. Armitage was walked to load the bases, before Petraitis hit a sacrifice fly to allow Hula to score and move Hillier to third. Nadeau and Darlage each hit RBI-singles to plate Hillier and Armitage, respectively. Miami's final run of the inning came when Nurre reached on a fielder's choice. Darlage was out at second, but Nadeau came home to close the gap to one run, 15-14.
Again Miami was able to hold the Cardinals scoreless in the top of the eighth inning before knotting the game, 15-15, in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Hillier singled up the middle, and Armitage doubled down the right field line as Hillier came flying around third base to score.
A tremendous defensive effort by the RedHawks in the top of the ninth inning prevented any Cardinal runs as Nadeau grabbed a fly ball at the left field fence for the second out of the inning and Armitage plucked the ball out of the air and slung it to first for the third out, leaving two Cardinal runners stranded.
Nadeau was walked to start the bottom of the ninth inning for the RedHawks, and sophomore Ben Eubank entered the game to pinch run for Nadeau. Darlage reached on a fielder's choice bunt and advanced Eubank to second, before Nurre put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Ball State intentionally walked Mynhier to load the bases. Niro singled to left centerfield to score Eubank and lift the RedHawks to the 16-15 triumph.
Miami used eight different pitchers with senior Bailey Pratt picking up his second win of the season in 0.2 innings of work.
As a team, the RedHawks belted four home runs--the most since recording four against Dayton on April 5, 2005--and amassed a season-best 16 runs off a season-high-tying 17 hits. Darlage went 5-for-6 on the day with five RBI's and two runs. His five RBIs were the most since Hillier recorded five RBI's against Quinnipiac in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. Hillier went 3-for-6 at the plate with three runs and an RBI for the RedHawks.
Miami hits the road for two midweek non-conference tilts. The RedHawks travel to Eastern Kentucky for a 2 p.m. game on Tuesday, April 3 and to Purdue for a 3 p.m. contest on Wednesday, April 4.