Updated Sun, Mar 30, 2014 9:18 pm
In each of the first two games of Ohio’s weekend series with Western Michigan, the Bobcats’ offense registered double-digit hits on their way to splitting those two games.
But in the series finale on Sunday, Western Michigan’s starter Keegan Akin didn’t allow the Ohio offense to find any rhythm at all, pitching a shutout to lead his Broncos team to a 4-0 victory over Ohio at Bob Wren Stadium.
Akin, a freshman, limited Ohio (5-19, 1-5 MAC) to just six hits over his nine innings pitched, while he tossed a season-high 12 strikeouts, improving his record to 3-0 on the season.
“[Akin] threw a ton of strikes,” Ohio coach Rob Smith said. “For a freshman and a Sunday starter, it was really impressive, and I’ll tip my hat to him.”
Akin’s teammates gave him the early advantage in the top of the fourth inning, as left fielder Vinnie Booker executed a perfect suicide squeeze to score the game’s first run and to give Western Michigan the 1-0 lead.
Ohio’s best scoring chance developed in the sixth inning, as the Bobcats had runners on first and third with only one out, trailing 1-0 and Jake Madsen stepping into the batter’s box. However, Akin got Madsen to ground into an inning-ending double play to keep the Broncos’ lead safe.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Broncos (12-12, 3-3 MAC) played add-on.
With one out and a runner on first base, designated hitter Brandon Cable saw a 1-1 fastball from Ohio starter Connor Sitz and launched it over the right field wall for a two-run home run, his first of the season, to increase Western Michigan’s lead to 3-0 over the ‘Cats.
The very next inning, right fielder Jared Kujawa took the first pitch from Sitz and sent it over the right field wall as well for his first home run of the season, pushing the Broncos’ lead to the final of 4-0. With the loss, Sitz fell to 0-6 on the season.
Mitch Longo and Tyler Wells led the Bobcats offensively, collecting two hits apiece.
“We made [the Broncos] beat us,” Smith said. “[Western Michigan] had to execute a squeeze and hit two home runs in order to beat us, so if we force teams to do that [to win] in the long haul, we are going to be fine, regardless who we play.”