Led by Spencer Halbert’s red hot bat and Joe Rock’s lights-out pitching, Ohio dominated the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers 14-3 on Friday at Bob Wren Stadium to begin a four-game weekend series.
Halbert was the force behind most of the offense for the Bobcats, totaling three home runs with 10 RBIs in four at-bats. Halbert nearly hit for a home run cycle with a two-run home run, a three-run home run and a grand slam. That was more than enough to put the Bobcats on top.
"It was good to see him get rolling because he does have that ability to be able to drive the ball out of the park on any at-bat," Ohio interim head coach Craig Moore said.
This is the first win of the weekend series between the Bobcats (3-3) and the Panthers (0-4).
The Bobcats came into Friday night's game without a home run, but that changed quickly. In addition to the stellar day from Halbert, Mason Minzey added himself into the home run conversation with a two-run blast of his own in the fourth inning. Ohio ended the day with four home runs to its credit on the season.
"We had a couple discussions over the week, offensively, in terms of trying to have a better approach, a better plan at the plate, and it kind of showed tonight," Moore said.
Rock made the offense’s job simple. He followed up his MAC Pitcher of the Week performance with six innings, no earned runs and 12 strikeouts.
"Joe was Joe again tonight. Twelve punchouts in six innings — we'll definitely take that every night Friday night from Joe," Moore said. "I think Joe is going to continue to provide those opportunities for us to win games on Fridays, so that was another outstanding, dominant performance by him tonight."
Eamon Horwedel came in relief of Rock in the seventh and picked up the save with a couple of strikeouts in three innings of work while only giving up three earned runs.
The Bobcats controlled the game from the first inning on, and they sailed smoothly until the seventh inning when they allowed two runs on a two-run home run.
The defense for the Bobcats were able to hunker down and hold the Panthers to only three runs in the remaining two innings.
Coach Moore said the players have bought into the game plan, and the strategies the team has worked on honing over the last couple of weeks and progress was made evident in the win Friday.
The remainder of the series will also take place at Bob Wren Stadium with a doubleheader Saturday and a final game Sunday to end the week for the Bobcats.