Ohio Baseball Loses Big on Senior Night

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The Bobcats took the field at Bob Wren for the final time this season Sunday afternoon losing 16-2 to Bowling Green. Ohio (13-37, 8-16 MAC) entered the game with an opportunity to win its first series of the season after splitting a double header with Bowling Green (18-26, 12-12 MAC) Saturday, but instead fell victim to many of the issues that have plagued the team all season.

“We knew going into the season we were going to have some pitching deficiencies. Today was another example of just going out there very short handed asking certain guys to maybe do more than what they're prepared or maybe capable of doing at this juncture in their careers,” head coach Rob Smith said after the game.

Ohio started off in the right direction, leaping out to an early lead. After drawing a walk to lead off the second inning, Ohio’s senior second baseman Ben Otto crossed home plate with two outs on a single by fellow senior J.R. Reynolds to give Ohio the early 1-0 lead after two.

But the lead wouldn’t last.

Ohio junior Sean Kennedy got the start on the afternoon, just his fourth of the season. The left-hander, primarily used out of the bullpen, entered the game with a 5.06 ERA. The junior cruised through the first two innings, taking complete control of the strike zone needing just 21 pitches to get through the first six batters. But in the third Kennedy’s control seemed to leave him as he labored through the inning, consistently throwing pitches behind the batters and in the dirt.

After loading the bases on two walks, Kennedy walked in the tying run, bringing the Falcon’s best hitter, catcher T.J. Losby, to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Losby launched a bases clearing double over the head of freshman center fielder Nick Squires, ending Kennedy’s no-hitter and giving Bowling Green the 4-1 lead.

The struggles didn’t end in the third inning. He coughed up another run in the top of the fourth and was yanked after just three and two-thirds innings pitched on the day.

Kennedy’s day came to an end in the fourth after giving up five runs on three hits while walking four. He was charged with the loss on the day, slipping to 4-3 on the season.

Nick Plys was brought in to relieve Kennedy, but his day on the mound was short lived. In the top of the sixth with one out and a runner on third, Ohio made a costly fielding error opting for the force out at second and an attempted double-play instead of getting the runner at home. The mistake allowed a Falcon run and after back-to-back doubles led to two more runs, Plys was pulled in favor of Ryan Ferrall.

The mistake was one that coach Smith said has plagued the team all season.

“As we've tried to build this [program] we've talked about building it on pitching and defense and we continue to see deficiencies in our defending. Our ability to make what I consider really routine plays …Those are areas we've got to improve upon,” Smith said

After pitching effectively in the seventh inning, Ferrell coughed up a three-run home run to Falcons first baseman Jeremy Shay in the top of the eighth, increasing the lead to 11-1 Bowling Green in the eighth. Shay finished the game with six RBI and two runs on two hits.

Ferrell closed out the game for the ‘Cats, giving up five more runs. The freshman finished the game giving up eight runs, four earned, on nine hits.

As has been the case all season, Ohio’s offense struggled to make up for the pitching staffs woes. Falcons’ reliever Ben Singer (1-2) shut down the ‘Cats already stagnant offense after entering the game to start the fifth inning. The right-hander allowed just one Ohio hit in first three innings on the mound.

 Falcons’ reliever Trevor Blaylock closed out the game in the ninth, allowing a final Bobcat run, but it was too little too late for Ohio.

Before the game the five senior members of the team (Otto, Reynolds, Marck Paliotto, Dan Schmidt and Brett Barber) were honored for Ohio’s senior day. Decked out in graduation caps, the four graduating seniors were honored in a mock graduation ceremony, complete with a speech from Ohio University President Roderick McDavis. Only Schmidt didn’t take part in the commencement ceremony as he has one more semester to go before he can graduate. The jolly ceremonies were the only high point of the day for the ‘Cats.

 It was a bad way for the seniors to go out, but after the struggles the team has faced all season it was also fitting. Smith said that at the start of the season he was obviously optimistic, but at a certain point they all realized that the issues the team had with depth and experience were too large to overcome.

With the loss the ‘Cats are all but mathematically eliminated from any chance at making the MAC Tournament. Currently Ohio sits at the bottom of the East division with just eight conference wins. Only the top eight teams make it into the MAC tournament.

Smith acknowledged the team has come to grips with their fate, but that he still expects them to go out and play hard. The ‘Cats have one final series left against Miami (Ohio) on the road starting Thursday at 6 p.m..

"We're going to have to sweep and we've yet to win back-to-back games more than once. We've not one a series all year. To expect us to go in and sweep, would be a pretty tall order. But our guys will play hard, they will play hard," Smith said.