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Bryce Butt pitches against Western Michigan during an April 9, 2010 game at Bob Wren Stadium. The Bobcats won the game 25-3. Their next game is against Central Michigan today at 3 p.m. at Bob Wren Stadium. (Erin Corneliussen | PICTURE EDITOR)

Baseball: Strong pitching fuels early season Bobcat superiority

If good pitching really does beat good hitting, the Bobcats should be better off this year than they were a year ago.

After starting the season 2-7, Ohio has now won 11 of its last 15 games, a fact that coach Joe Carbone attributes to better pitching.

“We’re doing a better job of throwing strikes, although we’re still walking more people than we would like,” Carbone said. “They’re doing a better job of locating their fastball and putting their breaking ball a little closer to the plate. They’re also maturing. The more times they go out, the better they are.”

Ohio will look for continued success on the mound this weekend when it plays Central Michigan in a three-game series beginning today.

In Ohio’s first nine games, the team’s ERA was nearly 8.00, and the staff averaged more than five walks per game.

But in the 15 games since then, the team ERA has dropped to 4.26 — fifth best in the Mid-American Conference.

Despite the drop in ERA, the pitching staff continues to struggle with walks. In last weekend’s three-game series against Ball State, Ohio walked 15 batters while allowing only seven runs.

Central Michigan is second in the MAC with 99 walks drawn, which could be problematic if the Bobcats continue to lack control.

Offensively, the Chippewas are led by infielder Tyler Hall. In 26 games, Hall is batting .351 with 34 hits and 12 RBIs. Hall also has drawn a league-leading 19 walks.

When rain canceled Ohio’s game against Cleveland State Wednesday, the Bobcats were given an unexpected day of rest.

But despite using six different pitchers in the Bobcats’ 9-4 win against Pittsburgh Tuesday, Carbone said he wishes they could have played Wednesday.

“I would have liked to have played because there were about five or six pitchers that didn’t get to pitch on Tuesday that we would have liked to run out there Wednesday to help them develop,” he said. “The guys that pitched Tuesday wouldn’t have pitched Wednesday anyway.”

This weekend, the Bobcats will return home to Bob Wren Stadium, where they have a 6-2 record this season.

“You’re more comfortable at home because the surroundings are comfortable and you’re sleeping in your own bed,” Carbone said. “But you still have to get 27 outs and you still have to score more runs than the other team, but we like playing at Bob Wren Stadium.”



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