Ohio sophomore Shelby Westler (17) waits for a pitch.
Ohio sophomore Shelby Westler (17) waits for a pitch. [Darayus Sethna | WOUB]

Ohio falls to rival Miami in MAC Tournament, now faces elimination

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AKRON, Ohio (WOUB) — The Battle of the Bricks took a trip north to Akron on Friday as the Ohio Bobcats renewed their rivalry with the Miami RedHawks. The No.1 Redhawks have been seemingly unstoppable all season, as they’re ranked 24th by ESPN nationally, stand with a 46-7 record, and have just one loss in MAC play. The Bobcats came into today’s MAC Tournament game on an eight-game win streak overall but on a seven-game losing streak against Miami in the rivalry. However, that winning streak would end and the team’s losing streak against Miami would grow to eight games, as the Bobcats fell to Miami, 3-1.

The Game

Ohio wasted no time getting traffic on the bases in the top of the first. Lauren Yuhas and Emma Hoffner both walked in their first at-bats to get runners on the corners with one out. Izzie Wilson had quite the game yesterday going 2-3 with 2 RBI, and followed that up by driving in the first run of the game for either team via a sacrifice fly. 1-0, Bobcats.
However, Miami would work out of trouble and force Ohio to strand two. The RedHawks immediately answered in the bottom half of the inning, as Kate Kobayashi drew a leadoff walk and Karli Spaid immediately followed with her 36th home run of the year. Miami took the lead back, 2-1.
Miami’s top half of the lineup came to play early on, as three of the next four batters would get on base. Allie Cummins was the second of those, as she drove in Jenna Golembiewski from second to take a 3-1 lead, still in the bottom of the first
Ohio head coach Jenna Hall would pull star pitcher Skipp Miller after just one out and six batters faced, presumably to keep her fresh for the team’s next game in the double-elimination formatted tournament. More on her outing later. In the meantime, Mikie Lieving would come on in relief and get out of the jam to end the first.
Despite the early fireworks in this one, it would be a pitcher’s duel the rest of the way and the score would stay unchanged. Despite many opportunities for both teams to add to the scoreboard, neither team could capitalize. Ohio would fall to Miami by a final score of 3-1 and turn to the elimination side of the bracket.

Early trouble ends Miller’s outing fast

There’s just something about these Redhawks when it comes to Miller. In her three outings against Miami this season, Miller has given up a combined 16 earned runs and has a 0-3 record against the team. Miller has been outstanding as of late, not giving up more than three earned runs in a start since April 24 at Pittsburgh, and has given up three or more earned runs in just three starts against non-Miami MAC teams all season. If Ohio wants a shot at winning the MAC and making the NCAA Tournament, it’ll need Miller to overcome her woes against the RedHawks.

Runners stranded, missed opportunities

There’s no denying just how incredible Miami has been all-around this year, but especially on the mound. However, Ohio had a lot of missed opportunities to take back control of the game. Getting out of the first inning down just 3-1 felt like a victory in its own right, and staying within striking distance of Miami felt like an even bigger victory. The stranded runners were ultimately what killed Ohio today. It had seven total left on base, a staggering number considering Ohio’s low run output today. We mentioned yesterday how dominant the Bobcats had been at the plate during its win streak, but has now scored four or fewer runs in three of their four meetings with the RedHawks this season. Simply put, that’s just not good enough against one of the nation’s top teams.

What’s Next?

Ohio now drops to the loser’s side of the bracket and will be facing elimination in every game they play the rest of this tournament. The Bobcats had one loss to spare, and it came at the hands of the RedHawks this afternoon. Ohio’s next opponent will be the winner of No.6 Ball State and No.4 Toledo, which will immediately follow Miami and Ohio’s game. The first pitch of Ball State/Toledo vs Ohio is currently scheduled for 6:30 p.m., with the potential for a delayed start considering the game is the finale of a quadrupleheader at Firestone Stadium on Friday.