April 9, 2010
OXFORD, Ohio - The Miami University baseball team jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two innings and rode the arm of junior starter Tyler Melling the rest of the way to win the series opener with Northern Illinois, 6-1, Friday evening at McKie Field at Hayden Park. The RedHawks (13-15, 2-5 Mid-American Conference) have now won back-to-back games for the first time since winning five straight from March 9-17.
Melling (Bellefontaine, Ohio) allowed just one run on three hits in a Miami season-long eight innings of work while tying a career high with eight strikeouts compared to just two free passes to earn the win (2-3). He also forced the Huskies (10-18, 3-4 MAC) to ground into two double plays while the one run allowed tied a season low for the ’Hawks. NIU starter Chuck Lukanen (2-6) suffered the loss, surrendering six runs on 12 hits in 7.1 innings pitched while also firing eight strikeouts with just one walk.
“That’s what we expect out of him,” head coach Dan Simonds said of Melling. “Hopefully he’ll find his rhythm and groove and continue throwing like that. Certainly the team rallied behind him. When he’s throwing like that, we play better defense. He’s capable of doing that every time he gets on the mound.”
Junior right fielder Adam Eaton (Springfield, Ohio) led Miami’s offense, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored while driving in another and coming a home run shy of the cycle. Four other RedHawks recorded a pair of hits, including junior third baseman Brad Gschwind (Cincinnati, Ohio), who added two RBI, and freshman left fielder Brooks Fiala (Carmel, Ind.), who notched his first collegiate multi-hit game with a run scored and a RBI. Miami totaled 13 hits while the three hits allowed marked a season low for Miami.
The RedHawks wasted little time denting the scoreboard as Eaton led off the game with his fourth triple of the season and scored on an RBI single to center field by Gschwind, while Miami tallied three more runs in the second inning to make it 4-0. Fiala led off the frame with a double and trotted home when Eaton singled the first pitch he saw up the middle while a Gschwind double plated sophomore center fielder Ryan Curl (Columbus, Ohio) and a sac fly to right field from junior second baseman Jon Edgington (Cincinnati, Ohio) brought home Eaton to cap the burst.
NIU center fielder Cory Krupp became the first Huskie to reach second base when he doubled to start the seventh inning and scored on a sac fly by third baseman Troy White, but a double play helped Miami get out of a two-on, one-out jam to keep the RedHawks up 4-1. Miami gained the run back in the eighth as junior first baseman Kyle Weldon (Mason, Ohio) smacked his first career triple and scampered home on a single by Fiala, as the Huskies had the infield pulled in, while sophomore Ryan Brenner (Kirtland, Ohio), who pinch ran for Fiala, scored on a single by Curl to give the RedHawks a 6-1 advantage.
Sophomore reliever Matt Rosinski (University Heights, Ohio) took over for Melling in the ninth and struck out the leadoff batter and closed out the contest with a punch-out to lock up Miami’s 6-1 win.
“Every game is a one game series for us,” Simonds said. “We’ve got to play good baseball. We can’t worry about our opponent, can’t worry about other things that are going on. All we need to do is focus on playing Miami baseball.”
The RedHawks and Huskies will square off again in the middle game of the series Saturday at 2 p.m. at McKie Field at Hayden Park.