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Ohio University sophomore pitcher, Connor Sitz, claps with his teammates during a breaking in the game against Central Michigan University on Sunday, March 23, 2014 at Bon Wren Stadium. 

Ohio drops two of three in season’s first MAC series

Bobcat pitchers get mixed results in new roles in weekend series against Central Michigan

Coach Rob Smith’s choices for starting pitching this season have consisted of a mix of three different guys.

But with mixed success among that tight rotation, and the first Mid-American Conference series of the season in full swing, the staff opted for a shake-up to the system in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

That shake-up again yielded mixed results, as the Bobcats won the first game of the series by a score of 6-4, before dropping the final two games 9-3 and 4-0. Sophomore Christian Botter earned the Bobcats’ only win of the series, while freshman Mason McWilliams and sophomore Tom Colletti each suffered losses.

Ohio is now 12-8 on the season and 1-2 in the MAC.

The series started in a familiar way for Ohio, with junior Connor Sitz (4-1) taking the mound and pitching a strong first four innings of the game, allowing for the Bobcats to break out in the top of fifth and break a 1-1 tie with a three-run inning powered by a two-run double from redshirt senior Garrett Black.

Sitz began to struggle in the fifth, and was removed in favor of Botter, who pitched the next four outs for Ohio.

As the Bobcats got steady relief out of Botter, junior Jake Miller and senior Logan Cozart—who recorded his fifth save of the season—the lineup provided enough firepower to keep them ahead, scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to give Ohio the cushion it needed to start its MAC season on a high note.

Games two and three featured different faces at the starting helm for Ohio, beginning with McWilliams’ four-plus innings of work on Saturday. McWilliams, who most recently saw action in a relief stint against Siena that lasted 6 1/3 innings and yielded just two runs, was solid through his first two innings of the first start of his college career. The Chippewas’ bats broke out in the third inning, however, smacking a two-run triple and two-run homer off McWilliams to jump ahead.

Central Michigan (15-9, 2-1) continued to string hits together against Ohio’s relief repertoire, which included typical starters Evan Geist and Jake Rudnicki, while the Bobcats’ lineup was mostly stifled. A two-run single by Tyler Wells and RBI single by Cody Gaertner were the only dents against a strong outing by the Chippewas’ pitching staff.

Colletti was the third pitcher called upon to lead the way for Ohio in the series, as he pieced together six innings of work in Sunday’s rubber match. Colletti performed admirably, allowing three runs—two earned—on five hits and one walk while striking out three.

Unfortunately for Colletti and the Bobcats, his performance came on Ohio’s weakest offensive showing to date. Central Michigan’s Jake Gamble put together a complete game shutout against the Bobcats, allowing seven hits and striking out one while walking one.

The series was an improvement over a year ago, when the Bobcats were swept at home by the Chippewas, who remain one of the strongest teams in the MAC.

Ohio moves on to a pair of home non-conference matchups at home this weekend.

 

aw987712@ohio.edu

@_tonywolfe_

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