Ohio came into its weekend series with Ball State in need of conference wins. The Bobcats were eighth in the Mid-American Conference standings; the top six teams earn a spot in the MAC Tournament.
But the weekend didn’t treat Ohio well. The Bobcats were swept by the Cardinals in the three-game set.
The Bobcats had a strikeout problem Friday night. They lost 4-1 and struck out 14 times.
Eddie Kutt got the start for Ohio, and he pitched the first 2 1/3 innings before he was pulled for Cory Blessing. Kutt made the first mistake of the game, giving up a two-run home run to Ball State’s Jeff Riedel. Riedel was the final batter Kutt faced. The right-hander allowed two hits, two earned runs, two walks and had a strikeout.
“I thought he’d be a good matchup early because of his off-speed stuff,” coach Rob Smith said. “Ball State’s a very aggresive-swinging team, so I thought he could eat up some outs early.”
After a two hour and 35 minute rain delay, Blessing’s day was done. Ball State’s John Baker’s day was done, too. Baker started for the Cardinals, allowing three hits and a walk. He struck out eight.
But Baker wasn’t the only Ball State pitcher that Ohio couldn’t figure out. Nick Floyd came in after the rain delay and in five innings of relief work, he gave up four hits and an earned run. He struck out six.
Ball State’s second pair of runs came off Ohio relief pitcher Kenny Ogg in the seventh. Ogg allowed two sacrifice flies.
After Ogg exited, Derek Carr came in to finish the game for the Bobcats, and he was dealing. In two innings of work, Carr allowed just one hit. Of the six outs he recorded, five were strikeouts.
“Derek’s got really good stuff,” Smith said. “He showed tonight in that situation that it’s quality.”
Despite decent pitching, the Ohio offense wasn’t providing runs. Rudy Rott was the bright spot offensively. Rott went 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the eighth, the only run the Bobcats scored.
After Saturday’s matinee was rained out, the Bobcats and the Cardinals squared off Sunday in a doubleheader.
Ball State defeated the Bobcats in both games, 15-1 in the first and 11-6 in the second.
Gerry Salisbury started for Ohio in the first game. In three innings of work, he allowed nine runs — five earned — on seven hits and a walk. He struck out one.
The Bobcats committed four errors between the two games. Even though Ball State scored 15 runs, it left 11 runners on base. Overall, the Cardinals had 15 hits and drew seven walks.
After Salisbury, six Ohio relief pitchers came in to tame the Ball State offense, but it didn’t work.
Offensively, Ohio struggled again. Rott drove in the lone run, and the Bobcats had just six hits. They struck out 17 times, 12 of which came from Ball State starter Drey Jameson.
In game two of the doubleheader, the Bobcats offense tried to provide enough runs, but the pitching struggled to take care of Ball State’s offense again. Ohio had six runs on 11 hits, but stranded 15 on base in its 11-6 series-finale loss.
Michael Klein started, giving up three hits and four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. For the first time in the series, though, Ohio was able to give Ball State’s starter trouble. The Bobcats mustered six hits, five walks and three earned runs off Kyle Nicholas. He lasted just four innings in the box score, but faced two batters in the fifth without recording an out.
The Bobcats still struck out 12 times though, which brought their weekend total to 43.
Rott hit another home run and had two hits. Tanner Piechnick, Ryan Sargent and Sebastian Fabik also had two-hit days for the Bobcats.
Ohio will have a non-conference game against Youngstown State on Wednesday before hosting Western Michigan for a weekend series.