Photo Cred: Karli Bell

Spencer Ibarra Leads Ohio’s Hot Start at the Plate

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The Ohio baseball program has built a reputation on having one of the strongest pitching staffs in the Mid-American Conference, yet a lack of runs often holds the Bobcats back from sealing the deal. But with a new season comes a new area of expertise and the Bobcats are starting to show that at the plate.

Twenty-two games into Ohio’s 2017 season, Spencer Ibarra leads the team with a .313 batting average, four home runs and 18 runs scored and is second on the team with 15 RBIs.

“We have obviously had some issues at times scoring runs and he has been one of our most consistent hitters,” Ohio head Coach Rob Smith said, “so he has provided a lot of offense, and hopefully he can continue to do that and even create some other opportunities for the rest of our offense to create runs.”

In the week of opening Ohio’s home schedule, Ibarra helped the Bobcats win the first three of the four games at Bob Wren while tallying a .467 batting average, seven hits, and two home runs. His stellar performance at the plate earned him the MAC Player of the Week honors on March 20 and again on April 4.

“I really just focused on staying healthy” says Ibarra, “I’ve had some problems with my back in the past, I focused on staying healthy and that entailed taking a few weeks off of really doing any baseball things to make sure my back is strong and ready. I just started working a lot harder in the weight room, and just being able to have this environment here with a lot of people helping me has been one of the main reasons why I started so hot.”

Ibarra started his college baseball career at Neosho County Community College where he played two seasons until transferring to Ohio. But, a severe back injury stood in the way of his playing time in the 2016 season.

“This year again about two weeks into the fall, he had a similar back problem and we were really concerned that he wasn’t going to be able to come back,” Smith said, “but he rehabbed and he worked hard and now he is healthy, and we are seeing the kind of player he can be when he’s healthy and out there everyday.”

After Ibarra collected his first player of the week award, the Bobcats went on a five-game losing streak. In the weekend series against Butler, Ibarra struggled to provide the usual heat he brings to the plate. Ibarra got on track against Ohio State on March 28, a game in which he went 3-for-4.

In the opening weekend of MAC play against Ball State, announced his presence to the conference by hitting .462 with six hits, two doubles and four runs scored in a series sweep for Ohio.

And after getting the season off to such a hot start, Smith has one strategy to help Ibarra keep up his heat.

“Stay out of his way. When they are playing well just stay out of the way, don’t tell them anything, don’t ask questions, just let him keep playing so. He’s going to continue with his routine, keep working hard like he always does, you know baseball is certainly a game of rhythm and he is in a good one.”