Updated Wed, May 8, 2013 9:17 pm
The Ohio Bobcats lost their final non-conference game of the season Wednesday night, falling on the road 6-5 to Pittsburgh. With the loss Ohio falls to 13-34 on the season.
The game went down to the wire Wednesday night, with Ohio battling all the way to the end. Up one with three outs to go, Pitt brought on right-hander Joseph Harvey to close out the game. He forced Ohio second baseman Ben Otto into a pop out to start the inning, but hit third baseman John Adryan to put a runner on with one out in the ninth. Chandler Geller advanced to second on a balk by Harvey after replacing Adryan as a pinch runner and right fielder Brice Nikithser drew a walk putting two on for center fielder Tyler Wells. Geller was caught stealing third and Wells flew out to end the game.
Ohio trailed early on, down two runs after the first inning. Sophomore right-hander Nick Plys (0-3) made his second start on the season, entering the game with an 8.25 ERA. He hit the leadoff batter and coughed up a single to put two on to start the bottom of the first. The pair of Panthers pulled off a double steal with Pitt starting pitcher and designated hitter Casey Roche (1-0) at the plate, but Roche struck out for the first out of the inning. Panthers left fielder Boo Vazquez knocked a two RBI double into center field to give Pitt the early lead. Plys struck out his second batter of the inning and forced a ground out to end the first.
Plys settled down in the bottom half of the second inning, retiring the Panthers 1-2-3. Nikithser led off the second inning with a double to left-center field. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Wells, who has struggled offensively all season and slipped to ninth in the batting order. Nikithser scored on a groundout by freshman Nate Squires, cutting the Panthers lead to one run. Squires’ twin brother Nick grounded out to end the inning.
Roche slapped a two-out double into left field in the bottom of the third, ending Plys’ streak of consecutive Panthers batters retired at eight. Vazquez drew a walk to put two on, but Plys struck out Panthers first baseman Steven Shelinsky Jr. for a second time to end the third.
However, Plys walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the fourth. He followed by giving up a double to Pitt third baseman Sam Parente, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Plys loaded the bases by walking the next batter. Panthers second baseman Dylan Wolsonovic drove in a run on a sacrifice fly allowing Parente to advance to third. Parente touched home on a fielder’s choice increasing the Panthers lead to 4-1. Plys gave up a double but induced a fly out to end the inning. Plys gave up four runs on five hits while picking up the no-decision on the night.
Right-hander J.R. Leonardi replaced Roche on the mound to start the fifth, but Roche stayed in the game as the designated hitter. Roche would also get a no-decision on the night after giving up just one run on three hits through four innings.
Otto doubled off of Leonardi to lead off the fifth and Adryan drew a walk. Nikithser sacrifice bunted the runners into scoring position bringing Wells up to bat. Wells entered the game hitting .208 with runners in scoring position, but drove in Otto on a groundout to second cutting the Panthers lead to 2 runs. He finished the game with no hits in three at bats and one RBI.
Right-hander Brad Przebieda took the mound in the bottom of the fifth, replacing Plys after four innings of work. Shelinsky singled off Przebieda with one out, scoring two batters later to put the Panthers up 5-1 after five innings.
Matt Wotherspoon replaced Leonardi on the mound in the top half of the sixth. The right-hander retired Nick Squires to start the inning but Ohio first baseman Jake Madsen smacked a double down the right field line, advancing to third on a single by shortstop Dan Schmidt. Schmidt moved up to second on a wild pitch. After a strike out by Cody Gaertner, Otto shot a two-RBI single into left field, bringing the score to 5-4 Pitt. With two outs, Otto stole second, advancing to third on a single to left by Adryan. In a curious series of events, Otto managed to score, tying the game at 5-5, but Adryan was caught stealing second to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth Panthers center fielder Stephen Vranka hit a one-out single into center field, scoring two batters later on a double by Roche, regaining the lead for Pitt 6-5. Brett Barber replaced Przebieda (0-1), who was charged with the loss Wednesday after he walked Vazquez with two outs. Barber ended the sixth inning by striking out Shelinsky, the Pitt first baseman’s third strike out of the game.
Ethan Mildren took the mound to start the seventh, replacing Wotherspoon who gave up three earned runs on four hits in the bottom of the sixth but managed to earn the win improving to 8-1 on the season. Mildren made quick work of the ‘Cats, retiring the batters in order.
Barber responded by sitting the Panthers down 1-2-3 to end the seventh with the game still close at 6-5.
Pitt sent out its fifth pitcher of the game, Rhys Aldenhoven, to start the eighth inning. Nick Squires singled off the right-hander to lead off the inning. He stole second on a strike out by Madsen, advancing to third on a fly out by Schmidt. Down one with a runner on third and two outs, Gartner struck out to end the inning.
Logan Cozart replaced Barber on the mound after 1.1 innings of hitless baseball. Cozart retired the side in order to end the eighth, marking seven straight Panthers batters retired.
Down one run in the top of the ninth, Ohio once again threatened to tie the game up, but Harvey was able to work out of the jam on his way to earning his fifth save on the season for Pitt.
Ohio only has six games remaining in the season and currently sits dead last in the Mid-American Conference standings at 7-14. The ‘Cats welcome Bowling Green (16-25, 10-12 MAC) to Bob Wren Stadium this weekend for Ohio’s final home stand before a road series at Miami (OH) next weekend. Ohio will need to sweep the series if they hope to stay alive for a shot at a berth in the MAC Tournament. Friday’s first pitch is set for 6 p.m.