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Jake Rudnicki, now a senior relief pitcher, throws in a start against Xavier in 2015 (FILE).

Bobcats drop home opener to Xavier

Ohio lost 9-5.

A record that stood at four games above .500 entering their first home appearance kept Bobcat fans plenty eager for their first chance to watch their team in action.

Unfortunately, the first glimpse of the team at home bore more resemblance to last season’s struggles than the new season’s promise.

Ohio fell in its first Bob Wren Stadium appearance of the season to Xavier on Tuesday, 9-5. Jake Rudnicki (1-2) took the loss for the Bobcats, the team’s 10th straight against the Musketeers dating back to 2005.

Rudnicki’s struggle to miss bats continued in the early innings of the game, as he allowed a run on a pair of hits in the first before serving up a three-run homer in the second. Xavier continued its hit parade into the fourth inning, adding two additional runs off the Bobcats’ right-hander. Rudnicki’s start was cut short after 3 2/3 innings, but not before a total of six runs crossed the plate on nine hits.

“We’ve gotta get off to better starts,” said coach Rob Smith. “That’s been an issue for us all year. We’re fortunate enough to have the record that we have. The offense has picked us up in some spot; the bullpen has picked us up in some spots, but we’ve got to get more quality starts.”

Ohio (12-9) saw its first sign of life offensively in the bottom of that frame, with Ty Wells stepping in with a runner on and taking a pitch out to deep left field for his fourth home run of the season, narrowing the deficit to 6-2.

The Musketeers continued to separate themselves against the Bobcats’ bullpen, scoring two runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth. Meanwhile, Ohio struggled to capitalize on opportunities Xavier presented, leaving the bases loaded in the third and stranding a pair of runners in both the fourth and the sixth innings.

Ohio got some key relief help late in the game from freshmen Logan Jacik and Cory Blessing, who combined to pitch 3 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball to end the game. Unfortunately, a supporting rally from the Bobcats’ lineup late in the game wasn’t in the cards.

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“We just didn’t take advantage of them,” Wells said. “They gave us some opportunities; they put some of our guys on base and made a few errors. We’ve got to work on moving those guys over and hitting better with runners in scoring position.”

Wells finished the game 2-for-5 with a home run, while Manny DeJesus finished the game 3-for-5 with three singles. David Hamlett also saw some of his early-season struggles taper off, delivering a 2-for-4 performance.

Xavier entered the contest with a .225 team batting average and saw five different players collect multiple hits in the game, as Jacob Bodner recorded the win in an inning of relief.

Ohio will now turn its attention to non-conference rival Marshall, which will visit the Wren on Wednesday for the second game of Ohio’s five-game home stand.

The Bobcats have dropped three straight to the Thundering Herd dating back to 2011.


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