Ohio baseball slding into home
Photo: Logan Riely

Ohio Baseball Loses Home Opener

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After traveling for its first 20 games of the 2015 season, Ohio baseball’s first home game at Bob Wren Stadium finally came on Tuesday. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they didn’t benefit from some home cooking in a 9-5 loss to the Xavier Musketeers.

Nate Soria set the tone early for the Musketeers, leading the game off with a single. He quickly stole second, advanced to third on a grounder, and scored on a single to right from Brian Bruening.

The Xavier catcher struck again in the second with a three-run homer. With two outs the backstop hit a line-drive bomb to left.

The ‘Cats struggled to figure out the Xavier starter Eric Steine early on. The senior righty retired the first five Bobcats, and got through the first inning in just seven pitches.

The Musketeers took a 6-0 lead in the fourth with a sacrifice fly from Bruening and an RBI-single through the middle of the field.

Ohio starter Jake Rudnicki’s day was over in 3 and 2/3 innings. He allowed six earned runs on 10 hits, and took the loss.

Ohio head coach Rob Smith stressed the need for quality starts from his pitchers after the game.

Steine completed four innings for the Musketeers, and was pulled after the Bobcats’ tagged him for two runs in the fourth. Cody Gaertner provided a base runner with a leadoff single, and Tyler Wells supplied the power with a deep ball over the left field wall.

The early 4-0 hole that the Green and White found itself in was the difference, as they played their opponents even after the second inning.

Smith cited an improved offensive approach for the better play in later innings, but the ‘Cats couldn’t capitalize on their 10 hits like the Musketeers did with their 15.

The Musketeers got their six-run lead back in the top of the fifth. It started with a leadoff walk, followed a by a throwing error from third baseman Ty Black that put runners on second and third. A balk and wild pitch brought in Xavier’s runs.

Those miscues and two walks proved to be deflating for the Bobcats.

“That took a little bit of wind out of our sails,” Smith said. “We had gotten some momentum back in our dugout and I think felt good about where we were at, and all of the sudden we get a little sloppy with what we were doing, and that made the rest of a game a tough challenge.”

Black plated another Bobcat run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth, but a solo homer from Andre Jernigan stretched Xavier’s lead back to six in the sixth inning.

Mitch Longo picked up an RBI with a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the sixth, and the Bobcats scored their final run on a wild pitch in the eighth.

Two freshmen righties pitched solid relief innings for Ohio. Logan Jacik went 2 and 2/3 scoreless frames and only allowed one hit. Cory Blessing allowed three hits in the ninth, but also managed to keep Xavier scoreless.

The Bobcats have another non-conference matchup Wednesday with Marshall. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. from Bob Wren Stadium.