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Ohio University sophomore infielder Ty Black catches a pop-fly ball to keep Western Michigan players from scoring runs. The Bobcats defeated the Broncos 7-5 on Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Athens, Ohio.

Ohio hopes to extend winning streak at Marshall

The Bobcats are headed to Marshall for a mid-week game on Wednesday afternoon.

The story of the 2015 season for Ohio has been that its strong lineup and steady back-end of its bullpen have been overshadowed by a starting pitching staff that struggled to pitch deep into games and put the team in a lot of early holes.

Last weekend against Buffalo, however, the Bobcats (17-12, 5-4 Mid-American Conference) ripped the pages out of that story, tore them to pieces and set fire to the cover.

Now, they will make the trip to Marshall (9-21, 2-9 Conference USA) to face the Thundering Herd on Wednesday. It will be the fifth and final game of the Bobcats’ current road trip.

Ohio’s starting pitchers threw a combined 16 innings in a three-game sweep of the Bulls, allowing just four runs on 14 hits and striking out 19. The back of the bullpen remained strong as ever, with Tom Colletti and Logan Cozart each earning saves on three innings of shutout baseball, while Corey Wells looked sharp in 2 2/3rd innings of work in the finale, giving up just one run on three hits.

A little bit of that magic on the mound would serve the Bobcats well on Wednesday, following the slugfest it took to beat Marshall 11-8 in Athens just two weeks ago. During that matchup, the Thundering Herd crushed a grand slam in the third inning off the Bobcats’ starter Evan Geist and scored three more unearned runs in the fourth to go ahead 8-5.

“I wanna see us minimize free bases,” said coach Rob Smith. “If you look at the runs they scored against us last game, there was a lot of walks, errors, hit by pitches, things that created a lot of run-scoring opportunities. I just want our pitchers to attack their hitters and force them to earn what they get.”

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Ohio went on to march back into the game, as Jake Miller and Cozart combined to yield zero runs in the final five innings while the offense pieced together a comeback, finishing Marshall off with a three-run triple by Tyler Wells in the eighth inning to score the winning runs.

The game was a battle that both teams were well prepared for, given the tension that exists each time the two meet during the season. Marshall pitcher Kolin Stanley was ejected from the fifth inning of March’s contest for throwing behind Ohio third baseman John Adryan and its manager, Jeff Waggoner, while defending his pitcher.

“They’re kind of a rival with us,” said redshirt senior infielder Garrett Black. “We don’t like how they go about their business. We think you should always go about it a certain way, and we feel like we do it the best in the league. That’s one thing that gets us fired up; we feel like we work harder than them, and so there’s no reason we can’t beat them.”

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The Bobcats plan to utilize the strategy of pitching one man per inning in Wednesday’s contest, hoping to draw on the success it has seen from the strategy against teams like Kentucky and Ohio State. While unconventional, it’s difficult to argue with the results it has yielded in terms of hits and runs allowed.

Ohio will look to achieve its first four-game win streak since the beginning of the season, when it started 6-0. If its pitchers keep Marshall’s bats quiet, it could be a sign that a new story is being written.

@_tonywolfe_

aw987712@ohio.edu

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