Miami Wins MAC Baseball Tournament

Updated 5/20/2000

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    Miami Celebrates winning their first MAC crown since 1983.

    KENT, OHIO (May 20) - Miami University jumped to an early lead and cruised to their first Mid-American Conference Tournament title since 1983 with a 16-7 victory over Ball State University on May 20 at Gene Michael Field. With the win, the RedHawks advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first tournament appearance since 1983 and sixth overall.

    After losing by one run in each of the last two tournament championship games, the fifth-seeded RedHawks (39-21) left nothing to chance, scoring three runs in the top of the first and opening a 13-0 lead by the middle of the third.

    In the top of the first, Miami loaded the bases as three of the first four batters singled and Bobby Barnes then scampered home on a passed ball. Andi Scheidt followed with an infield single to plate Jeremy Ison. David Cook then drove in tournament Most Valuable Player John Lackaff with another infield single, this time a slow chopper to second base.

    One inning later, Miami was at it again when Barnes clubbed a two-run homer to straightaway center field, just over the 400-foot marker to spark a seven-run outburst. Ball State starter Adam Sheefel (5-4) lasted just 1 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. Three of the six singles he allowed never left the infield. The RedHawks were no kinder to reliever Tim Wells, who gave up six hits and five runs in one-third of an inning. Back-to-back-to-back doubles by Cook, Brady Nori and George Stegmiller chased Wells before Dustin Ruhl finally closed the door.

    With two outs in the third, Lackaff came home on a triple by Schedt, who scored moments later on a wild pitch. Three batters later Stegmiller doubled in Cook to give Miami a 13-0 lead.

    Miami's 16 runs were the second-most scored in a MAC Tournament championship game behind 18 by Eastern Michigan University in an 18-3 win over the University of Toledo in 1982. The RedHawks' 21 hits were one short of the tournament record of 22 set by EMU in 1982 and tied by the University of Akron in 1996.

    Miami starter Billy Kieninger (6-2), meanwhile, cruised through the Ball State lineup until the seventh when he allowed three runs on four consecutive singles before enticing Paul Henry into a lazy fly ball to right for the final out.

    "This feels great," said Miami head coach Tracy Smith. "We've sat in the other dugout the last two years and our kids would not be denied this year. We got the monkey off our back."

    The RedHawks padded their lead in the sixth on a single by Spain that scored Ison and added two more in the seventh on a single by Barnes that brought in Nori and Mace.

    Prior to the seventh, all four of Ball State's (34-23) runs had come on home runs. Scott French and Shayne Ridley hit solo shots in the third and Matt Wood clubbed a two-run shot in the fifth to cut the deficit to 13-4. Ridley, the MAC's regular-season Most Valuable Player, went 3-for-3 with a walk after entering the game 0-for-8 in the tournament.

    "After the last two years, they (Miami) were just dying to win this thing," BSU head coach Rich Maloney said. "They put the ball in play, and every play early in the game went their way."

    Miami, which claimed its second tournament crown, became the first team to go undefeated through the double-elimination tourney since it expanded to six teams in 1998.

    Joining Lackaff on the All-Tournament team were Barnes, Spain, Yost, Ball State's Doug Boone, Central Michigan University's Matt Crowley, Dan Schell, and Kevin Uzarski, Kent State University's Alex Marconi and Ohio University's Tony Schiml.