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Julia Moss | Staff Photographer


From left: Seth Streich, Brent Choban and Jason Moulton will start on the mound in the three games of the weekend series against Kent State. The three starters serve as an example for the younger pitchers on the team. Ohio has a chance to pull closer to Kent State in the conference standings.

Baseball: Pitch perfect: 'Cats set for vital series

Breathe in. Breathe out. Set. Stride. Throw.

For Ohio’s pitching staff, every toss is the same as the next, even if the pitcher knows the game — and possibly the season — hangs in the balance.

On Friday, Ohio will begin its most important season series to date, a three-game set with Mid-American Conference-leading Kent State.

The team’s mindset is no different than usual, though. Every pitch has equal importance.

“We want to go out there and have a one-pitch mentality,” said senior Brent Choban, Friday’s starter. “We want to win every pitch. That ultimately sets us in the best position to win the game at the end.”

What starts with Choban Friday will carry on to fellow weekend starters Jason Moulton and Seth Streich in what will likely determine the Bobcats’ postseason positioning to some extent.

Ohio (23-21, 12-6 MAC) is three games back of the Golden Flashes and could close that gap with a good showing this weekend.

Much of that weight will fall on the Bobcats’ pitching staff, which leads the conference in earned run average and runs allowed. For Ohio to be successful, it will have to limit Kent State’s offensive production, which is the best in the MAC. But a little adversity is anything but a revelation for Ohio’s top three hurlers.

Each of the weekend starters has battled back from a significant injury during his time with the Bobcats. Moulton’s setback was the most noteworthy, as he was forced to rehab from Tommy John surgery after his freshman season.

Choban has dealt with several smaller setbacks such as a sprained ankle, while Streich, the youngster of the bunch, is in the process of working his way back from hamstring and oblique injuries.

The way the group has emerged from injury runs parallel to its ability to mature and progress despite being thrown into competition as freshmen.

“Pitching is the toughest thing to master on the field,” Ohio coach Joe Carbone said. “It doesn’t come easy. And these guys struggled as freshmen, but we threw them out there and lived with them.”

The numbers don’t lie. Three seasons ago, Choban’s ERA was nearly three times what it is now. Moulton’s was more than double its current state. Streich pitched only 50-2/3 innings while carving out a role as a position player during his rookie campaign.

Carbone attributed their improvement to maturation and putting forth their due diligence in the bullpen with pitching coach Andrew See, a former Ohio hurler.

“Freshmen get in the mentality of ‘Poor me, I used to be great. Poor me, what’s the matter,’ ” Carbone said. “ ‘Poor me’ has to grow up and realize that ‘Poor me’ has to get fundamental with a pitching motion and throw fastballs for strikes.

And when ‘Poor me’ doesn’t do that, he will be ‘Poor me’ for four years." Because the trio has been through thick and thin together, they are able to spread a lot of knowledge learned through experience to some of the Bobcats’ younger hurlers.

“We have three coaches, four coaches for 35 guys,” See said. “So you can’t hold their hand for them every two seconds to be there for them. These guys have bettered the process. They have been great and led by example and have showed the younger guys the path for the future.”

Because each of the hurlers takes to the mound only once per week, they have plenty of time in the bullpen and dugout to take a step back and analyze the game. Choban and Moulton credited the time scrutinizing pitchers, both the Bobcats’ and their opponents’, with helping them bond as a staff and improve their craft.

Just as every pitch is the same, every game is a learning experience.

“This is probably the first group of guys that has been here this long,” See said.

“They have done what we’ve asked them to do, and these three guys, credit to them, put it all together.”


— Ohio won three of its four weekend series in April.

— Kent State has won eight of its past 10.

— The Golden Flashes lead the MAC in nine offensive statistical categories.

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