Ohio falls in two of three games in Chillicothe to defending MAAC champions
Even if the box score pegged Ohio as the home team this past week, the three-game series against Siena wasn’t quite the home debut the team had been waiting for.
Instead of laying in wait at Wren Stadium in Athens, weather forecasts forced the Bobcats to make the quick trek to Chillicothe for their home debut.
Despite the chance to eclipse their win total from a season ago with a weekend sweep, Ohio fell in two out of three games to Siena, winning the daycap of Saturday’s doubleheader 4-3, before being defeated 7-3 in the nightcap and then dropping a 7-4 game on Sunday.
It’s the first series of the season for the Bobcats (10-6) that did not result in a sweep for either team.
“They came in here and played tough baseball against us,” coach Rob Smith said. “They were a regional team last year and some of the guys from that team are back this year. So they’re a tough team and unfortunately, they got the series win over us this weekend.”
The weekend started on a high note for the Bobcats, as Connor Sitz (4-1) paced the club with six innings of two-run baseball, while the lineup gradually settled in. Ohio trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, when reigning Mid-American Conference East division player of the week Ty Black smacked a one-out triple, and scored on a sacrifice fly by John Adryan to cut the deficit in half.
The Bobcats kicked the offense into another gear in the sixth inning, taking the lead with a three-run effort supported by three hits and a Siena error. Mitch Longo and Tyler Wells came up with RBIs in the game-winning effort, while Logan Cozart pitched the rest of the way for the Bobcats en route to his third save of the year.
Ohio fell behind out of the gate in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, as Jake Rudnicki (1-1) saw his early-season struggles continue, failing to finish the first inning of his start and allowing five runs to cross the plate before his departure. Mason McWilliams provided some steady relief following Rudnicki’s disappearance, pitching 6 1/3 innings and allowing just two runs.
While McWilliams’ relief efforts were strong, the damage was already done. The Bobcats mustered just three runs in six innings off Siena starter Ed Lewicki, and scattered only five hits over the course of the game. Longo added a pair of RBIs in the losing effort.
After leading all starting pitchers with a 4.62 ERA a season ago, Rudnicki’s 2015 ERA currently sits at 11.74 after six starts.
“Jake’s healthy, he’s just not super sharp,” Smith said. “We’re not ready to give up on him yet by any stretch, and he’s not giving up on himself. Whether or not he’s in our starting rotation in the next couple weeks, we’ll see, but he’s certainly going to continue to pitch for us. I have full confidence he’ll figure it out.”
Siena cycled through a battery of eight pitchers to beat the Bobcats in Sunday’s rubber match, handing Evan Geist (2-2) the loss. Longo and Cody Gaertner each recorded multiple hits for Ohio, while four different players produced RBIs.
With the series loss, Ohio falls to 10-6 on the season, with one game remaining before it begins conference play. The Bobcats will challenge Kentucky in Lexington on Tuesday before making the trip to Mount Pleasant, Michigan, for a weekend series against Central Michigan.