May 28, 2005
OXFORD, Ohio--Miami University's top-seeded baseball team stormed to an early lead and completed a championship round sweep of Central Michigan Saturday afternoon, downing the Chippewas, 10-6, to capture the 2005 Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament Championship and automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
The RedHawks exploded for five runs in the first inning and would never trail as sophomore pitcher Keith Weiser won his 10th decision of the season and second of the tournament, going eight innings, scattering eight hits and fanning five. The win completed an improbable run, in which the RedHawks, who were one loss from tournament elimination on Friday, won three straight games, including two in a row over the Chippewas.
Miami, which won its third MAC Tournament title and first since 2000, waits until the NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, which will be televised by ESPN, to learn its destination for the regional round. It will mark winner's fourth NCAA Tournament appearance. Miami was the first host institution to win the tournament since 1998, and improved to 44-16 on the year.
Central Michigan completed an outstanding season in which it posted a 42-18 record and had won 18 straight games over MAC opponents heading into the day.
Miami jumped on Central Michigan ace Ty Dunham, who was starting his second game in four days, quickly in the opening frame, putting five runs on the board to take the early lead. Centerfielder Brandon Hillier reached on an infield single and advanced to third on a double down the left field line by catcher John Slone. Hillier would come home on a sacrifice fly to plate the first run, but the RedHawks were just getting started.
First baseman Paul Frietch followed by extending his 13-game hitting streak with his third two-run home run of the tournament. Second baseman Geoff Orr followed with a triple to the wall, which was followed by designated hitter Michael Moljewski's first career home run. After allowing another single, Dunham got a Miami pop to escape an inning in which the RedHawks hammered out six hits and posted the highest-scoring inning of the tournament.
CMU responded in the bottom of the first, putting two runners on for left fielder Byran Mitzel, who doubled to right field and brought home Troy Moratti and J.T. Jones. The Chippewas would add another runner with two outs, but Miami's Weiser got out of the inning with a ground out and a three-run lead intact.
Miami remained on the offensive in the second, stringing together three straight hits and plating its sixth run when Ryne Robinson scored from second base on a Hillier single to centerfield. Miami would load the bases later in the inning with one out and send the Chippewas to the bullpen for right-hander Josh Collmenter, who would get CMU out of a jam with a double-play ball.
Collmenter would remain strong in relief, silencing Miami's offensive attack over the next two innings, and, in the bottom of the fourth, the Chippewas were able to get another run back when shortstop Ryan Peel came home on a Moratti infield single. With runners on the corners and two outs, Weiser, who was making his second start of the tournament, induced a ground out to second to end the inning.
Orr finally broke Collmenter's spell with one out in the fifth inning, pounding a line drive into the scoreboard in left field for his eighth roundtripper of the year. Moljewski would follow with a base hit but would later be thrown out trying to steal second for the third out in a 7-3 game.
With Weiser restricting the Chippewas to six hits through the first five innings, Robinson manufactured another run in the top of the sixth by walking, stealing second, advancing to third on a sacrifice fly and scoring on a balk. With two RedHawks on later in the inning, CMU went to the bullpen again for James Ricchio, who Kd Frietch to get to the bottom of the frame.
CMU was able to put two runners in scoring position in both the sixth and seventh, but Weiser held steady, navigating safely through both innings, and bringing the Red and White back to bat in the top of the eighth. Miami's bats would tack on two insurance runs in the inning, scoring Eric Radley on a fielder's choice and bringing home Robinson on a Canada RBI single.
The Chippewas staged their last rally in the bottom of the ninth against Miami reliever Sam Shorts, loading the bases with their first three batters and scoring a run on Shorts' second hit batter of the inning. Shorts would induce an important double play with the bases loaded, allowing another run, but the inning was not over. Eric Cannon slapped a single into left field after a lengthy at bat to bring in a run.
After another Chippewa base hit, Connor Graham came in from the bullpen and fanned the final CMU batter to clinch the Miami win.
Miami placed five players on the MAC All-Tournament team, including two pitchers, and Frietch earned tournament MVP honors.
2005 MAC All-Tournament Team
P - Keith Weiser, Miami
P - John Ely, Miami
3B - Brian Canada, Miami
DH - Michael Moljewski, Miami
3B - Troy Moratti, Central Michigan
OF - Bryan Mitzel, Central Michigan
DH - Jim Geldhof, Central Michigan
1B - Brad Miller, Ball State
OF - Eric Earnhart, Ball State
Most Valuable Player
1B - Paul Frietch, Miami