Pittsburgh’s colors might as well have been black and blue instead of blue and gold after the Bobcats finished with the Panthers’ pitching staff.
Freshman Dan Ward led an offensive outburst with a pair of two-run homers, and Ohio (13-11) left the Steel City with a 9-4 win despite several backups playing much of the game.
The win against the Panthers — who have the third-most wins in the Big East — is Ohio’s 11th in its last 15 games.
“Pittsburgh is a very good team,” coach Joe Carbone said. “Anytime you win you feel a lot better about everything. The hot dogs taste like steaks when you win.”
Runs have been in short supply this year, as the Bobcats have adjusted to new bats instituted by the NCAA. Ohio’s nine runs were the most it has scored since a 13-12 win against Marshall March 12.
Freshman Garrett Black had a two-run single, sophomore Seth Streich hit a solo home run and redshirt sophomore J.R. Reynolds added an RBI single to round out the scoring.
Sophomore Brett Barber earned the win by allowing one run in two innings of work. Carbone used six pitchers in all.
“A lot of pitchers did a good job on strikes,” Carbone said. “We played pretty good defense and we swung the bats a little bit better today.”
The Panthers (13-9) took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Casey Roche scored on a double play. In Ohio’s next at-bat, Ward brought junior Jensen Painter home with a home run to take the lead.
Ohio and Pittsburgh each scored a run in the fifth inning to make the score 3-2. Then in the seventh, Black hit a single to right-center to score junior Ethan Newton and senior Wes O’Neill.
By the time the Panthers’ last chance came around in the bottom of the ninth, the Bobcats had tacked on four more runs with Reynolds’ single and Streich’s and Ward’s home runs. Freshman Tyler Stage allowed Pittsburgh to score twice in the ninth before closing out the game.
Reynolds was effective at catcher despite having played in only two games before yesterday. With regular starter Trace Voshell getting the day off, Reynolds went 2-for-4 while also contributing on defense.
“There were some guys that we needed to give a chance to play,” Carbone said. “I thought J.R. Reynolds did a great job. He threw three guys out in the first three innings, and kept the game close for us and got us out of a couple jams with his throwing from behind the plate.
“That’s the first whole game he’s played all year.”
Ward now leads the Bobcats with five home runs on the season. Although his .237 batting average is far from the best on the team, he leads Ohio in slugging percentage and RBIs.
The Bobcats return to Athens to host Cleveland State today to start of a six-game home stretch for Ohio.
The Vikings are coming off a 2-1 extra innings victory over Eastern Michigan, the current Mid-American Conference West Division leader. Cleveland State is 6-14 overall.