Ohio needed at least two wins against Toledo this weekend at Bob Wren Stadium to stay afloat in the race for a Mid-American Conference Tournament spot.
A sweep would have been nice, too, but the Bobcats did the minimum and won two of three games against the Rockets, who have been stuck in the basement of the MAC standings.
Here are three takeaways from the series win:
Kutt solidifies starting role
Edward Kutt IV was tabbed with opening the series on the mound Friday, and the sophomore right-hander proved again why he deserves to stay in Ohio’s starting rotation for the future.
Kutt pitched eight innings and allowed just one unearned run on four hits and one walk while striking out eight batters. It was the best start by an Ohio pitcher this season, but it was nothing surprising from Kutt, who owns a team-best 1.74 ERA.
The long start was just what Ohio needed, and it allowed coach Rob Smith to rest bullpen arms for the final two games of the series. That was the plan Smith had when he placed Kutt in the starter role for Friday.
“He was outstanding,“ Smith said. “We were going to leave him out there and continue to let him eat outs.”
Kutt has only two starts this season, but his durability and consistency should keep him in the rotation for the rest of the season. He’s established himself as the most reliable arm Ohio has, and Smith has to enjoy the fact that Kutt still has two years left with the Bobcats.
Ogg’s time as a starter may be running out
Kenny Ogg has more experience than any Ohio pitcher, and that’s why he’s been given a long leash in the starting rotation this season despite a 6.11 ERA.
The senior pitched five innings and allowed a manageable three runs, all earned, in the second game of the doubleheader Saturday. It was the best start Ogg had since he allowed two earned runs against Central Michigan on March 22, but Smith said before the Toledo series that his role in the weekend rotation is being assessed on a week-to-week basis.
Joe Rock, who has found success in a midweek starting role in April, is on the verge of replacing Ogg in the rotation. But Ogg will likely see another weekend start after Rock, a freshman, failed to record an out and allowed four earned runs in relief of Ogg in the second game Saturday.
Smith hopes Rock’s rough relief appearance is just an anomaly, and Rock will likely be tasked with another midweek start Tuesday against Marshall. If Rock pitches like he did last Tuesday — when he allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings against Ohio State — then Smith may make a switch in the rotation.
“Joe’s been throwing well, and if we continues to throw well, then we’ll have to make some decisions about putting him back in the weekend rotation,“ Smith said. “I don’t know if we’re there yet.”
Offense continues to heat up
Ohio continued to distance itself from a ghastly offensive start to the season and battered Toledo with 33 combined runs in the series.
Most of those runs, however, came in the Bobcats’ 16-5 thumping of the Rockets to open the series Friday, but that one game showed just how explosive Ohio can be. The Bobcats did most of their damage in clumps — two five-run innings and one four-run inning — and made the most of their offensive opportunities.
Toledo’s pitching staff is nothing special. The Rockets had a 6.47 ERA before the series, but it wasn’t too long ago but the Bobcats have struggled with consistency at the plate all year. A big offensive weekend against a weak pitching staff was what Ohio needed, and it made the most of its opportunity.
Ohio (10-23, 5-7 MAC) will travel to Huntington, West Virginia, on Tuesday to play Marshall (20-15, 8-7 Conference USA). The Thundering Herd defeated the Bobcats 6-1 on March 26.
First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.