Ohio Baseball Splits Doubleheader Against Toledo

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Game One 

The Ohio Bobcats baseball team’s bats came alive Saturday afternoon in the first game of a double header with Toledo, giving the ‘Cats a 9-3 win. The victory, the Bobcats’ fourth on the season, ended Ohio’s eight game losing streak.

Toledo led 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth and starter Kyle Slack (1-2) had only given up one hit heading into the inning when Ohio third baseman Ben Otto came up to bat to lead off. Otto led off the inning with a double to left field to spark a five-run inning that gave Ohio the lead.

Dan Schmidt was hit by a pitch and Nate Squires followed up with a single to right to load the bases. Nick Squires lined a ball into right field driving in Otto and knocking Slack out of the game. Toledo turned to right-hander Cameron Palmer for relief, but he walked three batters and gave up a single before finally getting out of the inning. By then the damage was done and Ohio never relinquished the lead and starter Marck Paliotto picked up his first win on the season (1-4).

The ‘Cats struggled defensively early in the game leading to three runs in the first four innings for the Rockets. Tyler Grogg led off the game for Toledo, getting on after an error by Dan Schmidt, his first of two in the game. Matt Delewiski followed it up with a liner to left field advancing Grogg to third. Rockets centerfielder Ben Hammer then drove Grogg in on a sacrifice fly to center, giving them a 1-0 lead.

The struggles continued in the second as Rockets right fielder Andy Mix reached base on an error by Ben Otto. Despite the less than stellar defense, Paliatto got out of the inning unscathed. In the third inning Toledo added another run to the board giving them the 2-0 lead. With the bases loaded, designated hitter Anthony Smith drove in Delewiski on a sacrifice fly to center field. Paliotto worked his way out of the jam, though, only giving up the one run.

The Rockets tacked on a third run in the fourth after Grogg was walked and made it to second on a throwing error by Ohio catcher Cody Gaertner, his first of the season. Hammer drove in Grogg two batters later putting Toledo up 3-0 on the team’s second unearned run of the game.

The ‘Cats failed to do anything offensively in the first four innings but the pitching was much better for the team. Paliotto went five strong, giving up just one earned run and lowering his ERA to 4.58 on the season. He was pulled for reliever Sean Kennedy (2-2, 5.06 ERA) after Ohio’s monster fifth inning. He gave up an infield single to second baseman Deion Tansel to lead off the inning, but picked him off at first moments later. Grogg popped out and Delewiski lined a hard earned double to left field but Kennedy forced a Hammer groundout to end the inning.

The ‘Cats tacked on three more runs to take an 8-3 lead in the sixth on an RBI double by Jake Madsen and two-run slam to leftfield by leftfielder Scott White. White finished the game going 2-for-4 with two RBI’s. Madsen improved his already impressive batting average to .357 going 2-for-3 with two RBI’s and two walks.

Kennedy was a force for Ohio, shutting out the Rockets in the final four innings. He struck out Smith in the seventh on a wicked curve that had the crowd aweing. The ‘Cats scored their final run of the game in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Wells bringing in Madsen. Wells went 1-for-3 on the night with two RBI’s, making it the 13th straight game he’s reached base safely for Ohio

In the ninth the Rockets had one final shot to get the win and with the top of the order up to bat they had a decent shot. Grogg led off, reaching first on a fielding error by Schmidt. Delewiski lined out to center field, and Hammer then hit a single to left advancing Grogg to second. With two on and one out, Kennedy induced a 5-4-3 double play to end the game giving Ohio the win in the first part of a doubleheader.

Game Two

The Ohio Bobcats got off to a hot start in the first half of Saturday’s double-header against Toledo, but it failed to carry over. The ‘Cats (4-18, 1-2 MAC) couldn’t get anything going and were held to just four hits by Toledo (9-12, 2-1 MAC) starter Ryan Wilkinson in a 5-2 loss.

Wilkinson went the complete game getting his second win on the season and striking out three. Relying mainly on off-speed stuff and breaking balls, Wilkinson had the ‘Cats hitters fooled.

“He did a good job of pitching,” Ohio head coach Rob Smith said of Wilkinson’s effort on the mound. “You got to tip your hat. He threw a lot of strikes. He didn’t give us anything (to hit) … He did a good job of not beating himself.”

Coach said despite Wilkinson’s strong start, he felt part of the blame relied on the ‘Cats settling and getting “lazy” in their at-bats.

Wilkinson struggled early in the game, and Ohio capitalized. Scott White led off the second inning for the ’Cats with a single, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Kyle Dean sacrificed White to second on an infield groundout putting White in scoring position. A double by Bryce Nikithser scored White giving Ohio the 1-0 lead. Then two-straight plunked batters by Wilkinson loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the second. Dan Schmidt drove in Nikithser on a fielder’s choice grounder before Wilkinson was able to get Nick Squires to ground out, ending the inning.

After going 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the first game of the afternoon, Madsen struggled to get anything going in the second game notching just one hit in four at bats. He led off the bottom of the third with a shallow single to left field. But back-to-back fielders-choice groundouts by White and Dean ended the inning for the ‘Cats and started Wilkinson’s domination over the Ohio hitters.

Heading into the top of the fourth, Ohio starter Connor Sitz (0-3) had given up just two hits and no runs, but in the third the freshman pitcher ran into a bit of trouble. Toledo third baseman Wes White lined a zinger back at Sitz that shot out into center field, driving in catcher James Miglin on the play. Then Ryan Callahan shot a two-run bomb into left field, his second of the year, to give Toledo a 3-2 lead. Despite the runs, Sitz was able to stop the bleeding, getting out of the inning on two straight groundouts.

The next inning Tyler Grogg, who went 1-for-9 in the two games bringing his .463 batting average down to .413, shot a hard liner over the head of Nate Squires to lead off the fifth. But the Rocket was thrown out at second attempting to steal. Toledo squeaked out back-to-back hard earned infield singles putting runners on first and second for Miglin. The junior shot a single to left field driving in a run and putting guys on at first and second with one out.

Toledo led 4-2 and Sitz was in a jam. Ohio coach Rob Smith pulled the freshman in favor of right-hander Brett Barber after Sitz gave up eight hits and four runs in 4.1 innings of work. Barber made quick work of the Rockets, forcing two straight groundouts to get out of the jam.

Ohio couldn’t do anything against Wilkinson, but Toledo continued to get hits, to the tune of 15 for the game. A line drive over the second baseman’s head by Callahan started the sixth inning off for the Rockets. Toledo got two more on, advancing the runners to third and second creating a bind for Barber. The righty was able to force a groundout to end the inning holding the Rockets scoreless.

The Rockets loaded the bases on three straight singles in the top of the seventh, threatening once again to break the game wide open. Hot-hitting freshman Callahan came up to bat having already driven in three runs in the game. But Barber, known for his ability to get out of tight jams, wasn’t intimidated. He struck out the slugger and was able to end the inning unscathed on a fielder’s choice.

Wilkinson continued to dominate for Toledo, retiring the ‘Cats in order in the bottom of the seventh and striking out two, giving him four straight shutout innings at that point. After 2.2 innings of shutout baseball, Barber was replaced by Logan Cozart in the top of the eighth, the converted infielder made quick work of the Rockets, retiring them in order.

Dan Schmidt, who finished the game 1-for-3 with one RBI, led off the bottom of the eighth for Ohio with a contested double to the right field corner. But Wilkinson and the Rockets retired the next three, as he continued to jam Ohio hitters.

“We’re used to normally facing the harder throwing guys, so he came in and he was throwing maybe low-80’s and with just a bunch of off-speed (pitches) and it had us a little off-guard,” said sophomore centerfielder Tyler Wells on Wilkinson’s ability to shut the ‘Cats down. “We were getting out in front of a lot of things and just popping up, which you can’t do against guys like this.”

Wells finished 0-for-4, failing to reach base during the game and snapping a 13-game streak.

Cozart walked Ben Hammer to lead off the top of the ninth and Miglin shot a single into left field to put two guys on with no outs. A passed ball by Dean allowed the Rockets to advance to third and second, respectively.  With two in scoring position and no outs, Cozart walked Tyler Baar to load the bases.

That prompted another trip to the bullpen for Ohio, turning to freshman righty Ryan Ferrell. Ferrell struck out White looking, bringing up Callahan with the bases loaded and one out. The slugger, who finished the game 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs and a run, came through once again hitting a floater and driving in White. After getting into some trouble, Ferrell induced a 5-4-3 double play to get out of the jam, sending Ohio into the bottom of the ninth trailing, 5-2.

Wilkinson made quick work of the ‘Cats, though, retiring the side in six pitches to get the complete game win, giving Toledo the series 2-games-to-1. Ohio slips to 1-2 in the conference with the loss and continues to struggle, losing nine of its last 10 games. The team is frustrated but is looking at the positives, according to Wells.

“Even though this is a down game, in our first two games (of the series) we hit the ball better than we have been,” Wells said. “We just have to look at the small things and keep moving forward.”

Ohio won’t have a long time to try to regroup, though. They head to Cincinnati Tuesday to take on a Bearcats (7-11) team that features a trio of great hitters. Then the team turns around and comes back home to take on Ohio State (14-6). The Buckeyes are one of the most complete teams in baseball, featuring six guys hitting over .290 and a team ERA of 2.44.