The Bobcats improved their defense and rediscovered some magic in its pitching staff as it swept University of Illinois-Chicago in three straight
After Georgia State and Georgia Tech each had a turn at delivering knockout punches to Ohio last weekend following a 6-0 start to its season, the Bobcats were eager to regain their winning ways.
Ohio regained that control and then some this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, as it challenged the University of Illinois-Chicago at a neutral location and won all three games by scores of 6-4, 11-7 and 8-4.
With the sweep, the Bobcats improve to 9-4 on the season and are just two wins short of their total from one season ago.
“When you go on the road for basically your first month of the season, if you can come away with more wins than losses, obviously, that’s always a plus,” coach Rob Smith said. “So, we’re certainly encouraged by what we’ve seen, with our ability to produce in back-to-back-to-back days. I think it’s a sign of good things to come.”
Ohio shook things up a bit at the top of its rotation to start the series, as junior Connor Sitz replaced sophomore Jake Rudnicki as the day one starter on the mound. Sitz performed well in the new role, allowing just three runs on seven hits in 6 ⅔ innings, walking two and striking out four.
The Bobcats provided enough run support to earn Sitz the win, thanks in part to some big hitting by sophomore Ty Black. He finished the game 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, along with an RBI-single in the sixth. Redshirt senior Garrett Black and senior Jake Madsen also added RBIs for Ohio in the win.
All four of UIC’s runs came on a pair of two-run home runs by Jeff Boehm.
The second game of the series got off to a much shakier start, as the Flames began to beat up on Rudnicki starting in the third inning of the game. UIC eventually scored five runs off Rudnicki in 4 ⅔ innings and two more off of his replacement, freshman Mason McWilliams.
This led to a 7-2 Flames lead entering the eighth inning, before the Bobcats rattled off one of their increasingly common monster innings at the plate. Starting with a one-out hit by pitch by redshirt junior Cody Gaertner, Ohio began a barrage of hits against three different UIC pitchers that did not stop until nine runs had crossed the plate, and the Bobcats had turned a small blowout into a comfortable late-game lead.
Ty Black once again accumulated three hits for the Bobcats, while four different players finished the game with two RBIs. McWilliams picked up his first win of the season for his 2 ⅓ innings of work.
Saturday’s doubleheader may well have tired out the two team’s offenses, as they remained quiet for the first portion of the game, with Ohio scoring the lone run of the game’s first four frames. That quickly changed in the fifth inning, however, when the Bobcats sent 11 batters to the plate and compiled five runs on five hits and two walks.
Strength up and down the lineup again turned out to be key for Ohio, as four players recorded multiple hits while seven finished with at least one RBI.
Whether or not the opposing offense was fatigued, it was nevertheless an impressive start for redshirt senior Evan Geist, who picked up his second win of the season by pitching five innings of one-run baseball, allowing just three hits while walking seven and striking out six.
“That’s how (Evan has) been all year,” Smith said. “He has really great stuff, he just tends to have periods where he misses the strike zone a little bit, and the difference is whether or not he can work out of it or not. Today, he did.”