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Ohio pitcher Seth Streich delivers a pitch Wednesday at Bob Wren Stadium. The Bobcats defeated Youngstown State 5-4 after twelve innings of play. Ohio will face off against Dayton today at 6 p.m. (Alex Goodlett | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER )

Baseball: Lesser-seen players get their chance at bat

For Bobcats who find they spend more time in the dugout than on the field during games, there is hope.

Based on Ohio’s lineup changes this season, it seems that coach Joe Carbone believes in the maxim, “What have you done for me lately?”

The phrase means that players who began the season as starters do not necessarily remain, and age and seniority are about as important as place of birth and astrological sign.

It means that, as far as Carbone is concerned, it doesn’t matter who the player is so much as the production he brings to the team.

“It’s all competition,” Carbone said. “It’s all performance. That’s why they have tests, midterms. Just because you get an ‘A’ on the first one doesn’t mean you’re going to get an ‘A’ on the next two. You still have to study.”

Going by that metaphor, senior Wes O’Neill might not have studied hard enough in the first half of the year. After several weeks of starting at shortstop, O’Neill was struggling in the field and at the plate, Carbone said.

Carbone replaced O’Neill in the starting lineup with freshman Garrett Black, and it has paid off.

So far, O’Neill and Black have both played in 33 games and started 29. O’Neill has a .152 batting average and 12 errors, while Black has 10 errors and leads the team with a .333 average.

“We gave Garrett a shot and he’s kind of seized the job,” Carbone said. “No one keeps their job just because they earned it at the beginning. You have to perform all the time. If you’re the best guy, you can stay in.

“If you’re not performing, then someone else who’s been working hard in practice gets the chance to show what he can do.”

Another example of a player who worked his way into the lineup is senior Kory Burkhart.

Although he has appeared in 34 games, Burkhart did not play much in the beginning of the season. Since then, he’s become a semi-regular designated hitter for Ohio, starting 22 games and hitting .278.

Carbone uses the Bobcats’ midweek games to give opportunities to reserve players who don’t start the more important Mid-American Conference weekend contests.

But, Carbone said, those players are not relegated to midweek matchups.

“If they start hitting the ball and playing better than the other guys, yeah, you’re going to give them a chance on a weekend then,” Carbone said.


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