Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

Ohio right fielder Jensen Painter rifles a throw back to the infield during Mid-American Conference play this season. Though his fielding has been consistent, Painter’s offensive output has slumped as of late. He went hitless this weekend against Kent State. (Brien Vincent | Staff Photographer)

Baseball: Streaky Ohio slugger slogs through slump

Streaks are commonplace in baseball and can define a season, like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941. Ohio right fielder Jensen Painter’s season has been defined by a lengthy streak of his own.

Dating back to last season, Painter had reached base in 52 straight games, including every game this season. But the length of the streak, and possibly the pressure of extending it, has hindered the offensive output Painter enjoyed earlier this season. 

Painter was among the team leaders in batting average, but his average has dipped below .300. He hit 11 home runs in his first 27 games, but he hasn’t connected for one since April 1. In 21 conference games, Painter is batting .231.

Despite his declining numbers, Painter said he is simply concentrating on filling his role for the team.

“I just want to put together a quality at-bat,” he said. “If I put together a quality at-bat, then I have accomplished my goal.”

Ohio (23-24, 12-9 Mid-American Conference) head coach Joe Carbone said Painter sometimes tries to do too much. Carbone moved Painter from third to sixth in the lineup — not as punishment for the slumping average, but to take some pressure off the senior right fielder.

“I moved him down to reassure him that we have other guys on this team that can produce,” Carbone said. “He is still productive, gets on base a lot for us, throws guys out. He does the little things for us.”

Painter is second on the team in on-base percentage with .419, and his 11 homers still lead the MAC.

When Painter started to produce effectively on offense, it put other teams on notice, causing them to pitch away from him, and in some cases give him a free pass to first base.

Carbone’s switch on the lineup card is already helping Painter see pitches that he can handle and drive.

“I think he wants me to see more fastballs,” Painter said. “This past week I only saw a handful of fastballs in three games, so I think (moving me down in the lineup) was a good move on his part because Tuesday (against Pittsburgh) I saw a lot of fastballs.”

Painter batted third in the first two games against Kent State last weekend, and he was the clean-up hitter on Sunday. But the bump back up the lineup card did not bring more offense for Painter. Kent State’s pitching staff held him hitless and struck him out four times during the weekend.

Fellow outfielder Ethan Newton said Painter is trying to regain his swing from earlier in the year.   

“He gets pitched like so few guys in the league because of his ability to hit the home run,” he said. “I think it could be a little bit of an issue of pressing because he got off to such a hot start. He hit so many home runs so early.

“I think he might be trying to get that same swing back. I think he’s really struggling, maybe trying to do too much.”

The Bobcats have lost seven of their last eight contests and will try to get back on track in a Tuesday-night matchup against Xavier.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH