Ohio has spent most of its conference schedule clinging onto sixth place, the final Mid-American Conference Tournament spot and fighting to avoid a second consecutive absence from the postseason.
But after it suffered a three-game sweep to Ball State this weekend at Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex, Ohio slipped out of the final tournament spot and now have four games — three against a MAC opponent — to earn it back. The Bobcats were no-hit in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader and lost early leads in their two other games to fall into their third sweep of the season.
Here’s what happened in each game:
Coach Rob Smith wanted to leave Edward Kutt IV out on the mound as long as he could.
Kutt was in the midst of another dominant start and had tossed six shutout innings against Ball State’s No. 5-ranked offense in the conference. With a two-run lead, Ohio had a chance to preserve its relievers for the next two games of the series if Kutt could just hold on for another inning or two.
In the seventh inning, however, the fatigue set in for Kutt.
The Bobcats were slammed for four runs in the seventh inning of their 4-2 series-opening loss to the Cardinals and failed to make the most of a quality start from Kutt, who lasted 6 2/3 innings and allowed just one hit before Ball State’s big seventh inning.
Aaron Levy hit a home run in the first inning and Treyben Funderburg hit an RBI single in the third, but Ohio’s offense was silenced in the late innings by Nick Floyd, who pitched the final four innings and allowed only three hits and two walks while he struck out eight.
Saturday, Game 1
Ohio fell victim to Ball State’s first no-hitter in program history in its 5-0 loss of the first game of a doubleheader.
John Baker and Lukas Jaksich combined for five walks and 12 strikeouts to no-hit the Bobcats. Baker threw 116 pitches in his seven-inning start before he was relieved by Jaksich, who needed 32 pitches to complete the no-hitter.
Jack Liberatore started for Ohio but ran into trouble the second and third time through the Cardinals lineup. He allowed five earned runs on five hits and five walks while he struck out three in five innings pitched.
Saturday, Game 2
Ohio wasted no time in Game 2 when it built a 5-1 lead behind five hits — which included two triples — in the first three innings of the series finale.
Kenny Ogg registered a quality start despite allowing 10 hits and six runs (three earned) in six innings. The three unearned runs came in the sixth inning after Ball State capitalized on a two-out error by Michael Richardson with three hits and a stolen base.
The Bobcats recorded just one hit in the final three innings and fell victims to the sweep.
Ohio will play a mid-week game against Marshall on Tuesday at Bob Wren Stadium before playing in its final MAC series of the regular season on the road against Western Michigan. The Broncos currently sit ahead of the Bobcats at sixth place in the MAC standings, so the three-game series could decide who will make the MAC Tournament.