Bobcats plagued by big innings in first two games, before falling in pitchers’ duel in game three.
After rattling off 11 runs per game in its first six games of the season, it was easy to wonder when Ohio would meet its match from the opposing mound.
Georgia State came up with the answer to the puzzle that is Ohio’s offense, surviving a shootout in game one before shutting the Bobcats down in the final two games of the series to sweep previously-undefeated Ohio (6-3) in three straight, by scores of 10-8, 11-4, and 3-1.
“Nothing was different this weekend from how we approached it or our attitude about it,” coach Rob Smith said. “We knew Georgia State was going to be a better team than the ones we’ve faced before them, and we saw some good things this weekend. It’s just a shame we couldn’t come away with a win.”
Ohio was plagued by big innings in each of the first two games of the series, beginning with Friday’s starter, sophomore Jake Rudnicki, who took a beating in the second inning when Georgia State hung a five-spot. The Bobcats would eventually fall behind 7-1 entering the top of the fifth inning, when it began to mount their comeback.
Ohio closed the gap to 7-5 with a four-run fifth inning compiled on the back of a two-run single by Cody Gaertner. An inning later, Jake Madsen launched a two-run double that tied the game up for the Bobcats. Georgia State bounced back, however, with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks in part to sloppy defense by Ohio.
The two teams would score a run apiece down the stretch, leading to the Bobcats’ first loss of the season. It was the only game of the series in which Ohio, which entered the series with a .368 team batting average, collected more than five hits.
Georgia State (6-4) put together another big start in Saturday’s game, rattling off eight runs in the first inning — seven of which were unearned — against Bobcats starter junior Connor Sitz. It was an intimidating hole to put Ohio in to begin the proceedings, but the Bobcats were able to muster a three-run second inning. But, they came up with just one more run in the final seven innings.
The final game of the series turned into much more of a pitchers’ duel, as a cold and wet Sunday afternoon provided a dark atmosphere for both offenses. Evan Geist settled in well, as the redshirt senior Florida State transfer yielded just three runs in 5 1/3 innings of work in his third start in green and white.
Despite a strong start by Geist, his Georgia State counterparts were even more stingy on Ohio’s offense, as the Bobcats managed to muster just one run on four hits in the game against the Panthers’ staff.
“(Sunday) was certainly less than ideal hitting conditions,” Smith said. “It was very dead air, very cold, wet, and definitely favored the pitching side of things. So, I’m not concerned about our guys being able to go to the plate and swing the bats well.”
The Bobcats next challenge will be on Tuesday against Georgia Tech, a strong Atlantic Coast Conference team that has begun the season with an 8-3 record. Ohio plans to utilize a heavy rotation of pitchers, so that it does not diminish the arms of its starters leading into next weekend’s series at Norfolk State.