Baseball: Ohio will play first home series of season this weekend against Northern Illinois

 

Tony Giannini, left, and Rudy Rott joke during Ohio’s first game in a double header against Siena University on March 18, 2017. (FILE)

 

For Ohio, playing at home for the first time this season could bring a boost. The Bobcats have lost three of their last four games.

The Bobcats are 23 games into the regular season, and during those 23 games, not once have they played at Bob Wren Stadium. This weekend, though, that will change. The first game of the series is set for Friday at 6 p.m., but there might be a delay because of the rain over the past two days. On Saturday, the second game will begin at 3 p.m. The series finale will be at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

For the Bobcats, playing at home can settle them after a 23-game road trip. Rudy Rott mentioned the difficulty of playing 23 straight games on the road, specifically noting trying to get enough rest.

Ohio is coming off a 9-8 loss in extra innings Tuesday on the road against Morehead State. Aaron Levy, Rott and Evan Bourn combined for four home runs, and Levy, a freshman second baseman, hit two of them. The Bobcats hit the ball well as eight of nine players in the lineup tallied at least one hit.

But the Bobcats’ pitching didn’t compare to their hitting performance. Eight pitchers threw in the loss; the Bobcats gave up 10 hits. No pitcher threw more than three innings.

The Bobcats’ starting pitchers for this weekend are Gerry Salisbury, Derek Carr and Butch Baird. Carr, who will have his first career start, will throw in place of Michael Klein on Saturday.

As the Bobcats prepare for the Huskies, coach Rob Smith wants the pitching staff to focus on not walking as many hitters. On Tuesday against Morehead State, the Bobcats’ pitchers walked seven batters.

“Don’t give ’em a free base,” Klein said of the pitching staff’s mindset. “Anyone can go up walk up there and just keep their bat on the their shoulders and draw a walk if you’re not throwing strikes.”

While the Bobcats’ pitching took a dive against Morehead State, their offense will still need to remain productive. During the Bowling Green series last weekend, the Bobcats had 16 runs, the fewest number of runs they’ve had in a series this season.

Rott, a junior first baseman, leads the team in hits, runs, RBIs and home runs. He’s the best hitter on the team, but he also has batters such as Nick Bredeson and Tanner Piechnick who accompany him at the top.

The Bobcats’ lineup has a bevy of quality hitters. Those hitters will need to shine this weekend against a Huskies pitching staff that has allowed 237 hits this season.

With 23 games under its belt, Ohio (12-11, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) is just over 40 percent of the way through the regular season.

Still, this weekend marks the first time this season the Bobcats will play where they’re comfortable and can feed off more energy.

“Everyone kind of settles in, they get to spend time with their family this weekend,” Rott said. “So I think it just kind of helps you relax in a good way. Not like a lax, lazy way, but just kind of settle in and feel more at home.”

 

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