Updated Sun, Feb 16, 2014 6:53 pm
When Mitch Longo came to Athens in the fall for his freshman year, it appeared that he would be nothing more than a reserve in the crowded Bobcats outfield.
But due to the injuries of Brice Nikithser and Nick Squires, Longo found his name penciled in as the starting center fielder, and hitting sixth in the lineup, for Ohio’s season opener against Murray State.
Longo made the most of his collegiate debut, as he racked up four hits and a team-high three RBIs to lead the Bobcats to a come-from-behind 7-6 victory in the first game of a doubleheader against the Murray State Racers, the first season-opening win for Ohio since the ‘Cats defeated Charleston Southern in 2008.
Junior Nick Nauracy was the winning pitcher for Ohio, pitching three innings in relief and only giving up one hit and one walk, and freshman Corey Wells picked up the first save of his collegiate career, pitching a perfect 1.1 innings.
Ohio (1-0) was staring at a 6-2 deficit as they came to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning, and that is when the offense came alive, as four straight hits—including an RBI double by Longo and an RBI single by Tirey Burch—cut the Bobcats deficit to 6-4 and there were still no outs in the inning.
The ‘Cats weren’t finished in the inning, as Longo and Burch came all the way around to eventually score on excellent sacrifice bunts by Ty Black and Scott White, evening the score at 6-6 with three innings left to play.
In the seventh inning, Ohio took the lead for good when Longo lined a 2-out single into left field to score Tyler Wells and give them the 7-6 advantage.
A total of eight freshmen played in this game, including pitchers Jake Roehn and Jake Rudnicki, and neither player had the kind of debuts they wanted.
Roehn, who got the start for the Bobcats, allowed four hits and four runs in three innings, including a 3-run homerun to the Racers’ Michael Hargrove in the third inning. Meanwhile, Rudnicki, who relieved Roehn in the fourth inning, gave up two runs and four hits in one inning on the mound.