Baseball: Ohio defeats Northern Illinois 6-1 in first game of Saturday doubleheader

 

Gerry Salisbury pitches to Northern Illinois during the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, March 31, 2018.

 

Ryan Sargent stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning.

Ohio had a two-run lead after Michael Klein had scored off a single from Tanner Piechnick earlier in the inning.

Sargent drove in Piechnick and Rudy Rott for two runs with a hit to left centerfield. Aaron Levy was left on third, and he scored on the next at-bat as Dan McCauley drove him in with a base hit. The Bobcats scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth at Bob Wren Stadium against Northern Illinois, leading the team to a 6-1 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader.

The four-run inning gave Ohio a boost on offense after it led 2-1 at the end of the fourth inning. Five of Ohio’s 11 hits came in the bottom of the fifth.

While the Bobcats didn’t hit as well in Game 2, coach Rob Smith mentioned how the Bobcats and Huskies had similar hitting performances in their respective wins. The Huskies had three runs in the top of the tenth, and they totaled 11 hits in Game 2; the Bobcats lost 6-5 in 10 innings.

“I think we had some free stuff in that inning,” Smith said of the bottom of the fifth for Game 1. “There was a couple walks and then we put together some hits, so baseball at this level is very predictable in that regard. It’s hard to get three hits in an inning.”

Piechnick was the catalyst for the Bobcats’ success on offense in the bottom of the fifth. Klein advanced to third on a Rott single, and Piechnick hit a single to right centerfield. Klein scored.

Freshman second baseman Aaron Levy hit a single after Piechnick’s at-bat, and the Bobcats had the bases loaded after that.

The Bobcats gained a sizable lead in the bottom of the fifth and starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury supported that lead.

Salisbury struck out a career-high 11 batters and allowed four hits to earn his third win of the season. Salisbury gave up no earned runs, and he didn’t allow any walks.

“Fastball command for me honestly was huge,” Salisbury said after the doubleheader. “I didn’t throw a whole lot of off speed, and when I did it was in the zone and kind of kept them true.”

Salisbury had the pitching outing he needed, and the Bobcats’ starting lineup had the necessary offensive production to win. As Eddie Kutt came in to replace Salisbury in the bottom of the eighth, he continued to support the offense. He didn’t allow any walks, either. Kutt allowed two hits in two innings of work.

With Ohio getting a win in its first home game of the season, its hitting ability is a strength that will need to persist.

Still, if Salisbury and the rest of the rotation can provide support, the Bobcats have the potential to have more games with similar success.

 

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