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Ohio's Harry Witwer-Dukes strikes out Milwaukee's Ty Olejnik's return back to first base on Sunday, March 7, 2021.

Baseball: Ohio earns their first series sweep in Wisconsin-Milwaukee finale

It was a warm and sunny day at Bob Wren Stadium, creating the perfect backdrop for Ohio’s 3-2 win over Milwaukee. 

Ohio (6-3) had already defeated the Panthers (0-7) 14-3 on March 5, as well as 3-1 and 6-4 during a March 6 doubleheader. With the win, the Bobcats earned their first series sweep since a three-game sweep over Eastern Michigan in April 2019. 

After getting off to a slow start, Ohio’s bats woke up in the bottom of the third while down by one. Isaiah Peterson doubled to right-center field to start the rally and scored on an RBI double also to right-center by Michael Richardson.

But the Bobcats were not ready to settle with a tie in the third. Harry Witwer-Dukes followed the pair of doubles with an RBI single of his own to score Richardson. With the lead at 2-1, Ohio was ready to roll into the fourth. 

Braxton Kelly came into the game on the bump for the Bobcats, relieving starting pitcher Chace Harris after three innings of work. In his first appearance of the season, Kelly was electric for Ohio, using his changeup to fool Milwaukee batters. 

“They did a really good job of not getting out in in front of their selves and chasing those changes so I had to locate a little better,” Kelly said. 

While Kelly went to rest and re-evaluate before the next inning, the bats came out in support of him. Sebastian Fabik led the bottom of the fourth off with base hit to left field. Fabik would then advance to second on a wild pitch during the at bat of Alex Finney. The door opened for the Bobcats when Cole Revels reached safely on a throwing error by the Panther’s third baseman, allowing Fabik to score. 

With the lead now 3-1, Kelly was able to go back out with confidence in the fifth and until he was pulled in the eighth. Kelly would end the night with a notch in the win column and five strikeouts through four innings of work. 

Trouble came in the top of the eighth, when the Panthers hit a leadoff single of new pitcher Eamon Horwedel. With a runner on and one out, Jack Kraus nailed an RBI single up the middle. With the score now at 3-2, the Bobcats had to protect the lead in the top of the ninth. 

The few in attendance could feel the excitement radiating off the Ohio dugout and bullpen as it entered the final inning of play. Their dancing and high moral gave Ohio interim head coach Craig Moore confidence as he turned to trusted reliever Eddie Kutt IV to keep the Panthers at bay. Kutt allowed one hit, but had runners reach on fielder’s choices. In the final out of the game, Luke Seidel hit a ground ball to third base and Ohio got the man at two. 

“It’s definitely hard to sweep somebody, even in a three-game series, let alone a four-game series,” Moore said. “It shows that our guys are [going to] battle. They’re [going to] compete.”

There’s still time before the Bobcats begin MAC play against Bowling Green on March 19. Ohio still has a game and a series to get through before they can get their hands on conference opponents. The morale will need to carry over through the next week to get Ohio where they want to be going into conference play.

“I think it’s awesome that top of the ninth we got the lead and they play that music and the guys are bouncing around, so I hope we have many, many more opportunities this spring to be in that situation,” Moore said. 

With this extra energy under their wings, Ohio will travel to take on the Morehead State Eagles Tuesday, March 9 in a rematch from the Feb. 26 3-1 extra innings loss.

@ashleybeachy_

ab026319@ohio.edu

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