Bobcats’ losing streak goes to four as it drops 12-inning effort against Yellow Jackets.
Following a weekend sweep at the hands of Georgia State, Ohio head coach Rob Smith said its game against national power Georgia Tech would be a good test of where the team was at this point in the season.
And if Tuesday’s matchup was truly an indicator of how the Bobcats should fare over the course of the season, it’s hard not to be optimistic.
Ohio (6-4) took the host Yellow Jackets twelve innings into the game before ultimately falling by a final score of 7-6. Jake Miller tossed three innings of relief, allowing just one unearned run — which ultimately decided the game.
“Our guys competed hard and showed a lot of fight,” Smith said. “I saw a lot of tenacity in our club. We made some big plays in some tough spots during the extra inning situation and worked out of some tough jams. Jake Miller and Logan Cozart were really, really good the last five innings of the game.”
The Bobcats used a pitcher-by-committee game plan, utilizing their staff for just one inning apiece in the early going. It started off successfully, with Jake Rudnicki, Connor Sitz and Mason McWilliams each tossing scoreless baseball to fill up the first three frames. Meanwhile, Ohio’s offense was held in check by Georgia Tech starting pitcher Devin Stanton, who pitched the first 4 1/3 innings of the game.
In the fourth inning, the Yellow Jackets (9-3) became the first team to dent the scoreboard, thanks in part to a throwing error by Bobcats pitcher Logan Jacik after an attempted squeeze by Matt Gonzalez. Two runs scored on the error, while a third scored on groundout later in the inning.
The Bobcats answered in the fifth inning with RBI singles by Mitch Longo and Jake Madsen, but the momentum was short lived. Jeremy Cronk and Tom Colletti struggled to throw strikes in the following frame, and combined to allow three more runs to cross for Georgia Tech.
As the game entered its later stages, the Yellow Jackets’ bullpen had began to settle in, retiring the side in order in the sixth and sitting down the first two batters in the seventh. But then that’s when things began to break down Georgia Tech, as a Longo single was followed up by three straight walks. Designated hitter Cody Gaertner then stepped up big with a 3-run double that tied the game for the Bobcats.
After missing the 2014 season because of injury, Gaertner — a redshirt junior catcher — has started all 10 games for Ohio this season, and compiled a .364 batting average with a home run and 12 RBIs.
“He’s a good player,” Smith said. “We’re definitely excited to have him back, he’s a big part of what we’re trying to do here.”
The two team’s bullpens proved to be unwavering from that point forward. Logan Cozart got the Bobcats into extra innings, while Zac Ryan matched him inning for inning. When the game entered extras, Ohio turned to Miller, a junior, who shut down Georgia Tech’s offense in the 10th and 11th innings, while Ryan continued to put up zeroes.
The breaking point came in the 12th inning with more poor defense by the Bobcats. Following a leadoff single, Wade Bailey laid down a bunt that was mishandled by Miller. Miller made a throwing error on the play that allowed the winning run to score from first base.
Smith said playing better defense is going to be a key when getting prepared for conference play.
“We’re just getting outside of our system,” Smith said. “We’re doing things that we don’t practice, we’re trying to make plays we don’t normally emphasize in practice and it’s just creating some tough situations. It’s all very fixable, it’s just some fundamental steps we have to get back to. Once we do that, we’ll be in good shape.”
Longo, a sophomore, led the Bobcats on Tuesday with a 5-for-5 performance, scoring a pair of runs and picking up an RBI. Gaertner finished 3-for-6 with 3 RBIs, while Ty Black finished the game 2-for-5. Manny DeJesus sat out the game due to an injury.