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Ohio pitcher Ryan Burgett pitches to Xavier's Mark Elwell April 6 at Bob Wren Stadium. The Musketeers defeated the Bobcats, 7-5. (Ross Brinkerhoff | FOR THE POST)

Baseball: 'Cats have big plans for small ball

For coach Joe Carbone, playing scientific baseball comes down to simple math.

With Ohio’s dip in slugging percentage from .482 at the end of last year to .367 now, Carbone said the team is focused more on

small ball than it has been in the past.

“If we’ve got a runner on first who can get to second base in under 3.5 seconds, a pitcher who takes more than 1.5 seconds in his delivery and a catcher who takes more than two seconds to make the throw to second, then we’re going to steal,” Carbone said.

“But if the pitcher is getting them to the plate in 1.2 or 1.3 and the catcher is a 2.0 thrower, then there’s no sense in getting thrown out,” he said.    

After attempting 52 stolen bases in 2010 and 53 in 2009, the Bobcats are on pace to attempt 68 stolen bases this season. Ohio has also attempted more sacrifices.

Last season, the Bobcats recorded only 16 sacrifice hits. Through 32 games this season,  about half the year, they have already totaled 21.

“It’s a situational thing. When the opportunity presents itself, we will bunt,” Carbone said. “But we’re not going to bunt early in the game. We never have and we never will. I don’t believe in giving up an out early in a game when you might have a big inning.”

With runs at a premium over the past four games, small ball might prove to be important for Ohio in tonight’s home game against

Eastern Kentucky.

When the Bobcats and Colonels played last year, Ohio trailed 6-0 after two innings and eventually lost the game 11-10.     

After Bobcat pitchers gave up early runs to Western Michigan in each of the three games this past weekend, having to play catch-up has become a recent trend.

“You just have to go out and throw strikes and play ball,” Carbone said. “It’s not really something you can prepare for.”

Ohio’s starting pitchers have been susceptible to early runs, and the bullpen has often allowed runs late.

Last weekend against Western Michigan, Ohio pitchers allowed 13 runs from the seventh inning or later. Despite the late-game lapses, Carbone said there is no use in rehashing past events.   

“Last couple games, they’ve gotten a couple hits against them. There’s nothing we can do,” he said. “They’ve just got to go out every day and work on their breaking ball and work on their fastball, and that’s what we do every day.”


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