Miami Avoids Elimination With 6-3 Win Over Creighton

Updated 5/27/2000
TEMPE, Ariz. (May 27) -- Buoyed by the left-handed pitching of freshman Chris Leonard, Miami University remained alive at the NCAA West Baseball Regional with a 6-3 victory over Creighton University in an elimination game Saturday afternoon at Packard Stadium.

With the win, the RedHawks improved to 40-22, their first 40-win season since notching a school-record 45 wins in 1977. Creighton, which was eliminated from the four-team regional, finishes at 38-23. Miami now faces the loser of the Arizona State-Texas game at 10 p.m. (Ohio time) tonight (Saturday).

Leonard, who has won six consecutive decisions, pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. In the last two weeks, Leonard (7-1) has earned three wins and a save to lead Miami's hurlers. Leonard owns a team-best 2.79 earned run average.

Chris has been our most consistent pitcher of late, said Miami coach Tracy Smith. Nothing bothers him. For a freshman, he has a great deal of poise.

With the score knotted at 2-2, Miami broke the game open with a four-run seventh inning. After Joe Spain lined out to Bluejay shortstop Ken Sarna, Miami's Jeremy Ison reached on a two-base throwing error by Sarna. Junior Brady Nori then stroked a run-scoring single that put the RedHawks in front for good at 3-2. Catcher Luke Reinhart then reached safely on a single before freshman Zach Schmidt unleashed a run-scoring single to left field for a 4-2 Miami advantage.

Nori's hit was the first for Miami since center fielder Clark Mace opened the game with a double down the right field line. Creighton starter Cory Slining (7-6), who suffered the loss, did not allow a hit to 23 successive Miami batters.

Bobby Barnes and Tom Yost added run-scoring singles that upped Miami's lead to 6-2. In the bottom of the seventh, the Bluejays scored a run before Leonard pitched out a two-on, one-out situation. In the eighth, Leonard walked his fifth and sixth batters of the game before being pulled. He threw 127 pitches in the 100-plus degree desert weather.

I was pleased with the way we came back and regrouped after last night's marathon game (vs. Arizona State), Smith said. We were upset with the effort we put forth last night. It was much more pleasant watching today's game. We can still play better, however.

Sophomore Billy Kieninger, normally used as a starter, entered the game and shut down all five batters he faced. It was the first save of his Miami career.

Leonard and Kieninger were bolstered by a strong defensive effort. Shortstop Jeremy Ison made several outstanding plays and finished with a game-high seven assists. Miami only suffered one fielding miscue which did not cost the RedHawks.