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Baseball: Musketeers beat 'Cats in high-scoring game

Spring and the promise of warm weather threatens to break the vice grip winter has held on Athens for quite some time.

But the illusion of warmer weather could not soften the hands of Ohio’s defense or Xavier senior shortstop Patrick Paligraf’s bat en route to a 15-10 defeat at the hands of Xavier (11-13) Tuesday at Bob Wren Stadium

“You score 10 runs and get 18 hits (and) you should win the game,” Ohio coach Rob Smith said. “Our deficiencies on the mound are holding us back. It’s unfortunate because the kids deserve to have more success than they are having.”

Ohio (5-22, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) used eight pitchers in the game and continued its defensive struggles.

The Bobcats’ fielding miscues started in the second inning when senior second baseman Ben Otto flubbed a catch in shallow right field after the umpire called an out. The sacrifice fly led to Xavier’s first tally.

Ohio senior shortstop Dan Schmidt could have ended the inning when he fielded a bouncing ball up the middle of the infield, but instead of stepping on second base he hesitated long enough to allow all runners to be safe and watch another cross home plate.

The Xavier rally continued when Paligraf cleared the bases with a single to right field that brought the score to 5-2 after Xavier’s half of the second inning.

“If we execute on defense we’ll usually come out with that game,” Ohio junior catcher Kyle Dean said. “There are some plays I should be making, but after those plays are made we’ll have that game.”

The Muskeeters hung another crooked number as Paligraf doubled in three more runs in the third inning at the expense of Ohio relief pitchers Marck Paliotto, a senior, and Nick Plys, a sophomore. Two more runs lit up the scoreboard to push the lead to 10-2 at that point.

Ohio didn’t respond until the fifth inning when Dean took Xavier sophomore reliever Zach Johnson deep over the left field wall for a three-run homer. After another run, Xavier’s lead was trimmed to 11-6.

“I barreled it up for sure, it felt really good coming off the bat,” Dean said.

The Musketeers would tack on two more runs in the sixth inning to push their lead to 13-6.

The Bobcats outscored Xavier 4-2 in the final three innings to close their deficit to five runs.

“They give effort and they go out and compete, but this is Division I baseball and it takes a little bit more than that sometimes to succeed at a high level,” Smith said.

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