Updated Sun, Apr 14, 2013 4:55 pm
The Ohio Bobcats needed someone to step up in order to avoid being swept by Akron on Sunday, and Connor Sitz delivered. The freshman pitched a complete game to bring home the 4-2 victory in Bob Wren Stadium. The win was the first in Sitz’s career.
The right-handed pitcher entered the game 0-5 with an 8.54 ERA, but Sitz’s efficiency, along with great fielding from his teammates, helped get the first complete game for the Ohio pitchers this season.
“I can’t say enough about what Connor Sitz did for us,” Ohio coach Rob Smith said. “Nine innings, no walks out of the freshman in really what I thought was a must-win game for us today, and he performed outstanding.
“We needed an extraordinary effort out of him today, and he gave it. He was very efficient.”
Sitz finished the game with just 102 pitches and only had one strikeout. Sunday was the freshman’s first win in eight starts.
“It feels pretty great,” said Sitz on his first career win. “Definitely didn’t expect it to come like this. Didn’t really know when it was going to come. Started doubting a little bit throughout the year, but I can’t describe this feeling. It’s awesome. Feels kinda good to get it off my chest.”
Sitz forced the Akron batters to hit the ball, and his teammates made plays in the field, only committing one error the entire game. Coach Smith has emphasized all season on minimizing the errors on the field, physical and mental, and they did that Sunday, as the Bobcats were able to take advantage of a huge Akron error.
The Zips tied the game at one in top of the fifth inning on two infield hits that found the holes of the Ohio defense. The Bobcats had the bottom of their lineup coming up in the bottom half of the inning, but their ability to get on base gave Nick Squires an opportunity to regain the lead.
Nate Squires and Ben Otto each got base hits to get on first and second with one out. Nate, a pest on the base paths, caused pitcher Matt Larocca to balk and move runners into scoring position. His brother, Nick, came through at the plate with a 2-RBI single up the middle, giving Ohio the 3-1 lead.
The balk turned the momentum back to the Bobcats, as Sitz held the Zips to two runs for the game.
“Most games are lost, not typically won,” said Smith, whose team took advantage of four Akron errors. “That balk put us in a situation to get those two runs and that’s what this game at this level’s about. The team that can keep from breaking down and making mistakes to put the other team at a position to score runs is typically going to win.”
Nick Squires led the Bobcats with three RBIs on the day, while Otto had a strong day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with one run scored.
For the Zips, Larocca started the game off strong, throwing all strikes in the first inning and putting the Bobcats down in order, but Ohio pounced on him in the second for one run and again in the fifth, before he was relieved by Michael Steensen.
Ohio continues their home stand on Tuesday against Marshall. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. in Bob Wren Stadium.