Top of the ninth. Two outs. Two strikes. Two runners on base. Ohio up by one.
Every player on Ohio’s bench was slapping their forearm looking for that last elusive strike.
The Bobcats were going to do it. They were going to beat Ohio State for the first time in 29 years. They were going to snap that 11-game losing streak.
Then they weren’t.
In one of the most back and forth games of the season, Ohio (8-22, 3-6 MAC) lost to the Buckeyes for the 12th straight time, 10-8.
Ohio had done everything right to that point and at one point led by four runs.
It started with a grand slam.
Cole Revels hit a deep ball to right field with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning for his first career home run as a Bobcat. This gave Ohio a two-run lead in the fourth inning.
“I can’t say enough about Cole Revels,” coach Rob Smith said. “Five RBIs. That’s a lot.”
The bench exploded, and after a two-run shot from Rudy Rott in the next inning, the Bobcats had no doubt. They were going to win.
Ohio pitcher Joe Rock added to the confidence.
“He was outstanding,” Smith said. “I think he showed why he’s one of our best young arms, he has a bright future for us, and I’m looking forward to him pitching more innings for us.”
It’s true, Rock was outstanding. He pitched seven innings and allowed only four runs, more than enough to give Ohio a comfortable lead when he left the game.
Two of the runs against Rock came on what appeared to be a routine fly ball, but then sailed over the right field wall for a two-run home run.
Once Rock came out, things went bad.
With Ohio nursing a three-run lead, Ohio State tied the game up with one swing. Brent Todys hit a home run with two outs to deep left field off Eamon Horwedel to bring the game even.
The tie didn’t last long, though.
Revels came in clutch for the Bobcats with his fifth RBI on a two-out single to centerfield.
The stage was set.
Brett Manis, the closer for Ohio, came in to finish the game with a one-run lead, he had one responsibility: three outs.
The first two weren’t easy, but with two outs and two strikes Manis needed one pitch to end the 29-year drought and finally beat Ohio State.
Connor Pohl hit a ball hard to center field and scored the tying run for the Buckeyes, then the next batter hit a go-ahead double, which brought in two runs. It was the seventh run for Ohio State in the three innings.
Ohio lost its fourth straight game, and Ohio State beat them for the 12th straight time.
The Bobcats will look to get things back on track when they play Toledo in a three-game series that starts on Friday.
It’s a good matchup for Ohio since Toledo is just 1-8 in conference games this season. Ohio will need to keep the bats going and limit late comebacks like the one Tuesday.