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Ohio third basemen Dan Schmidt runs to make an out Sunday during a double play against Kent State. The Bobcats lost all three games in this weekend’s series to the Golden Flashes, scoring more than one run only during the 13-4 loss Sunday. (Katharine Egli | Picture Editor)

Baseball: Losses diminish division championship dreams

After keeping first place in the Mid-American Conference within striking distance for most of the season, Ohio’s chance at an outright conference crown disappeared in a flash.

Ohio (23-24, 12-9 MAC) began this past weekend’s series against Kent State three games behind the Golden Flashes (30-17, 18-3 MAC). The Bobcats needed a series win in order to keep pace with the Golden Flashes but came away without a single victory.

Ohio is now vying to get back in second place overall in the conference as MAC West-leading Toledo boasts a better conference record.

All weekend long, Ohio batters were handcuffed by an exceptional Kent State defense. Time and time again, Ohio batters were robbed of base hits by excellent plays in the field from their counterparts.

“A lot of that credit goes to Kent State’s defense; they made some great plays,” Ohio coach Joe Carbone said. “Some balls that we hit hard with men on base, they turned them into double plays.”

In every game of the series, Ohio gift-wrapped runs for Kent State in the form of an errant pickoff attempt or fielding error, putting the Bobcats behind in the early frames.

Ohio starters often got out of the situations with minimal damage but constantly playing from behind kept the pressure on the Bobcat batters.

“They came right at us,” center fielder Ethan Newton said. “We just weren’t able to string enough hits together in any of the games to get on top.”

After Kent State scored runs in the first and second innings of Sunday’s game, Ohio put runners on base in the fourth inning, but junior third baseman Dan Schmidt struck out to end the threat.

The Bobcat starters gave Ohio a chance by keeping the score close, but Kent State’s potent offense remained patient, scoring the bulk of its runs against Ohio’s group of relievers.

In Saturday’s game, the Golden Flashes posted back-to-back three-run innings en route to an 8-1 victory.

The theme of late-inning runs continued Sunday as Kent State scored eight runs in the final three innings to salt the game away.

Ohio scored its first runs of the game on an RBI groundout and on an RBI single from Newton. The Bobcats added two more runs in their half of the eighth inning, but those runs proved to be worthless in the 13-4 drubbing.

Ohio starting pitcher Seth Streich was bounced from Sunday’s game after allowing a seventh-inning home run over the right-field wall. Streich pitched 6-2/3 innings and allowed eight earned runs on 12 hits.

The Bobcats have now lost six of their past seven games after winning nine of their previous 11. Sunday’s contest marked the first time in the past four games that Ohio scored more than one run.

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