Baseball: Ohio defeats Kent State 6-4 in series finale, wins second MAC series of the season

 

Ohio’s Devon Garcia swings during the Bobcats’ game against Marshall on Wednesday. (FILE)

 

Ohio won two of three games in its weekend road series against Kent State. The Bobcats won the series finale 6-4 on Sunday, winning their second Mid-American Conference series of the season.

With about a month left until the MAC Championship, the Bobcats have four conference series left on the schedule. They’ll play Dayton on the road Tuesday, and their next conference series will be this weekend on the road against Miami.

Friday

The Bobcats have been in an offensive slump recently, and that continued in the first game of the series. Ohio tallied three hits in its 5-3 loss against Kent State to open the series.

Ohio didn’t score until the ninth inning and didn’t have a hit until the seventh. Rudy Rott hit a triple to right field to break up the no-hitter, but the Bobcats’ next three batters struck out to end the threat.

No player on the team finished with more than one hit — Rott, Michael Klein and Tanner Piechnick each had a hit.

Klein helped the Bobcats score in the ninth. He hit a triple to right field, which scored Piechnick and Dan McCauley. Klein also scored because of an error from Golden Flashes second baseman Greg Lewandoski.

Derek Carr got the start on the mound, and he allowed three earned runs in 2 2/3 innings of work. Three of the Bobcats’ bullpen pitchers threw as well. Cory Blessing and Kenny Ogg gave up a combined six hits and two earned runs. Eddie Kutt threw four strikeouts, the most of any Ohio pitcher Friday.

Saturday

The Bobcats entered Saturday’s game on a four-game losing streak, but they snapped it with a 5-3 win in 12 innings. After totaling three hits Friday, the Bobcats tallied nine hits Saturday. That’s the most hits they’ve had since they had 11 in their April 14 win against Eastern Michigan.

In the top of the 12th inning, Klein hit an RBI double down the left field line, which drove in Rott and Piechnick. Klein’s double put Ohio ahead 5-3, and Kent State didn’t score off Eddie Kutt in the bottom half of the inning. The save was the first of Kutt’s career.

The Bobcats were down 3-2 heading into the eighth inning. In the top of the seventh, the Bobcats scored two runs. Ryan Sargent helped drive in one as he was hit by a pitch with bases loaded, scoring Klein. Dan McCauley drew a walk with bases loaded, scoring Trevor Hafner. Ohio tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the eighth when Piechnick scored off a sacrifice fly from Hafner.

Klein’s RBI double is what the Bobcats’ offense will need more of. Ohio has struggled to score with runners in scoring position. With Klein doing that in extra innings to help win the game, that can serve as a boost to Ohio’s offense.

While the Bobcats produced more on offense, the pitching staff and Ohio’s defense held Kent State scoreless from the seventh inning until the end of the game.

Gerry Salisbury got the start, striking out seven and giving up three earned runs. Jake Roehn, Brett Manis, Nick Kamrada and Kutt contributed from the bullpen. The group combined for zero earned runs. Kamrada got his first win of the season.

Sunday

The Bobcats were down 4-0 heading into the seventh inning against the Golden Flashes, but they scored five runs in the seventh to take the lead. Ohio scored an insurance run in the eighth to win the game 6-4.

Rott helped the Bobcats score their first two runs in the seventh. Rott hit a two-RBI double to right field, which brought in Sebastian Fabik and Tony Giannini. Hafner then scored after Piechnick got to first on an error.

Devon Garcia drew a walk with bases loaded, scoring Rott to tie the game at 4. Then, Piechnick scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball. In the eighth, Giannini scored off a Rott sacrifice fly.

The seventh inning was a sign of a resurgent offense for Ohio. The Bobcats tallied nine hits in their 5-3 win Saturday, and they totaled nine hits again Sunday. Rott and Giannini led the Bobcats in hits with two each.

Along with the offense playing well, the pitching staff threw well again, too. The Bobcats didn’t give up a run from the sixth inning until the end of the game.

Blessing got the start, and he gave up one earned run and one hit in 3 1/3 innings of work. Manis and Ogg also pitched. Ogg threw five innings and tallied three strikeouts.

For now, this is the Bobcats’ most important win of the season. The Golden Flashes are one of the best teams in the MAC. The Bobcats winning the series shows they can compete with some of the top-tier teams in the conference.

 

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