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Ohio baseball coach Joe Carbone, right, is in his 24th and final season leading the Bobcats. Carbone has racked up 661 wins in his tenure. (Kevin Knallay | File Photo)

Baseball: Final season inches closer to home for Bobcats' longtime coach, Joe Carbone

Still four months from the start of the regular season, Joe Carbone is preparing for his final season as Ohio’s baseball coach.

But to him, “final” might as well just be “next.”

“I haven’t been too caught up in that, honestly,” Carbone said. “(The players) are concerned about getting ready to play. I haven’t dwelled on it, and I’m not going to.”

Carbone got his first look at the 2012 team in action Tuesday during the first game of the Green and White series of intrasquad scrimmages.

The white squad won the opener, 8-2, behind solid pitching and batting performances from junior Tyler Backstrom. He threw two scoreless innings to pick up the win and went 2-for-3 from the plate to account for three runs.

Yesterday’s contest was postponed because of rain. The series continues today at 6 p.m. at Bob Wren Stadium and will conclude Friday.

Carbone said the series gives the players a chance to make an early case for a starting role.

“Every fall, our positions are open,” he said. “Some guys get better, some guys stay the same, and somehow some get worse.”

The 2012 season will be Carbone’s 24th as the Bobcats’ skipper and his 41st season coaching college baseball. His 661 wins at Ohio are the second-most by a Mid-American Conference coach and the most in program history.

Though this will be Carbone’s final year, he said the team’s goals will be the same: winning the MAC tournament and advancing to NCAA Regionals.

“We usually talk about that at the end of fall practice,” Carbone said. “Our pitching affords us the opportunity to be realistic about those goals.”

The Bobcats will have four or five practices after the final game of the Green and White series.

Ohio opens the season with 10 southern road games and then returns to Bob Wren Stadium for 10 straight home games.

This season, Carbone will visit two of the former schools where he was an assistant when the Bobcats travel to play Toledo and Marshall. His final regular-season game as coach is a Sunday afternoon contest against the hated Miami RedHawks.

But as Carbone points out, Miami’s mascot is a myth.

“It’s a RedHawk, but there’s no such thing as a red hawk,” Carbone said in May. “There is a red-tailed hawk, but there’s no such thing as a red hawk. So basically, their mascot is named after a species that doesn’t exist.”

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