Jack Liberatore walked to the dugout after being pulled in the bottom of the eighth inning. On Saturday, Liberatore was the star of the show.

The freshman pitcher began Ohio’s long day at the park by throwing a stellar game. In his 7 2/3 innings, Liberatore struck out eight batters and gave up only five hits. He had grounded the Rockets in a brisk two hours and left the game with a 5-run lead in the Bobcats’ 5-2 win at Bob Wren Stadium.

“My main goal for today was to get the series win,” Liberatore said. “For me, that was just gonna take to get ahead early in counts and throw more pitches for strikes.”

Thanks to his effort, Ohio managed to claim the series against Toledo this weekend and finally put its season win count in double-digits. The Bobcats struggled to close the game after Liberatore exited, but Brett Manis wound up securing the final two outs.

Liberatore and Manis had it easy compared to their teammates during the second game on Saturday, which the Bobcats dropped. Starter Kenny Ogg managed to limit the Rockets’ damage to 3 runs during his long five innings but wrapped up with only three strikeouts. 

“We needed a little bit more out of the few other guys bullpen-wise,” coach Rob Smith said. “We didn’t get that in that last game. They gave a good effort. We just weren’t able to get it done.”

Luckily, the Bobcats didn’t need their bullpen much in the first game. Liberatore did most of the heavy lifting.

The performances of the Bobcats’ starters against Toledo was solid, but Liberatore’s outing stood out as the best for not only him, but for the rest of the rotation. Following Edward Kutt IV, who only gave up one run in his start Friday, Liberatore was itching to win and secure the series. 

“Liberatore was really good and so was (Kutt IV),” Smith said. “Both of those guys were exceptional, so it was good to see them do that.”

If Ohio can squeeze a game like Liberatore’s out of a freshman, it might find itself in the thick of the MAC Tournament race.