Trevor Hafner fell to the ground after catching a foul ball over the fence at third base, but the spirits of the Bobcats were anything but down after their 5-1 victory in their series-opening game against Central Michigan (8-7, 0-1 Mid American Conference) at Bob Wren Stadium.
Early in the game, it seemed as if the Bobcats (8-7, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) were going to have the same fate against the Chips as they did against Bowling Green. Mario Camilletti hit a two-out single to the left to score the runner from second, putting the Bobcats down 1-0 in the top of the first.
But it is amazing the difference a couple of days can make.
Ohio came out determined, swinging away in the bottom of the first. Spencer Harbert stepped up to the plate and knocked a two-out solo home run to tie the game in his first at-bat of the day. Even though the inning soon ended, it was clear Ohio was not done yet at the plate.
The Bobcats scored in the first three innings of the ballgame, something they are not known to do. They picked up two runs in the bottom of the second on an RBI groundout from Trevor Lukkes and an RBI single from Joe Weisenseel. Ohio would then score again in the bottom of the third when Harry Witwer-Dukes nailed a solo home run to left field.
“That was really good to see, especially early in the game,” interim head coach Craig Moore said.
The Bobcats offense was improving on itself from past games and was alive early into the game, helping out starting pitcher Joe Rock.
The run in the first would be the only run Rock gave up that night. He dazzled in front of a crowd of both fans and scouts. He gave the Chips just two hits and struck out six through six innings. His effectiveness came from a mix of the fastball and slider, a pitch he is known for.
His relief man, Eddie Kutt IV, also put in the work for the Bobcats. He struck out six in three innings and allowed no hits, runs or walks. This helped as Ohio was able to pick up another run in the bottom of the fifth when Sebastian Fabik laid a successful safety squeeze to score Michael Richardson.
All of this offensive success boosted the morale of the Ohio bench. The players danced and cheered as the music played heading into the top of the ninth. The bullpen was banging on a gong and throwing water into the air in celebration as the Bobcats took their first victory in three games.
Coach Moore was pleased to see this excitement coming from his team.
“That was something that we talked about in practice this week,” Moore said, “Was to make sure that no matter if we’re up five-nothing or down five-nothing that we’ve got to keep the same energy going in the dugout.”
Ohio now leads the series 1-0 and will have double the opportunities to defeat the Chippewas in a doubleheader Saturday with games at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.