Despite starting the weekend with two of its best performances of the year, Ohio’s weekend ended anticlimactically against Toledo. The Bobcats destroyed the Rockets in games one and two, but dropped games three and four by a run each, resulting in a series split between the two teams.
What could have been an opportunity to pounce on one of the weaker teams in the Mid-American Conference, ultimately was lost for the Bobcats (11-11, 5-7 MAC). Ohio has showed time and again this season that it can beat whoever it plays. The next step for this team is learning how to dominate the entire weekend.
Game 1: Ohio 13 Toledo 2
Everything went right for the Bobcats on Friday. Pitcher Joe Rock controlled the mount, striking out seven batters and only allowing two hits in the process. It was a normal day at the site for the left-handed junior. All season long he’s shown that he can deliver not only on the college level but potentially in the pros as well.
But enough about pitching. I know you saw that score.
Ohio’s bats were on fire against Toledo, but the Bobcats weren’t swinging with reckless abandon. Ohio forced 10 walks out of Toledo and when the time was right, capitalized on the weak pitching. Every starter collected a hit but the afternoon was highlighted by a grand slam by Isaiah Peterson in the eighth inning.
Trevor Hafner had a perfect afternoon, going 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and three runs scored. Trevor Lukkes (2-4, two RBIs) and Harry Witwer-Dukes’ (two singles, an RBI and one run scored) swings were also in rare form.
Ohio’s 13 runs were the most since its 14-3 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on March 5. It was also only the second time the Bobcats reached double digits this season, but Ohio’s bats weren’t cooled off just yet.
Game 2: Ohio 11 Toledo 6
Ohio and Toledo played two seven-inning games Saturday. And for Bobcat fans, there is good news and bad news. Chronologically speaking, the good comes first.
The Bobcats’ offense carried its momentum into Saturday’s first game, easily defeating Toledo by five runs. By the end of the first inning Ohio was up five-to-zilch thanks to four, yes four, consecutive home runs.
Witwer-Dukes, Sabastian Fabik, Hafner and Mason Minzey had their own personal MAC home-run derby at the expense of Toledo pitcher Kyle Jones. By the time Jones was pulled in the fourth inning the Bobcats were in control and confident.
Freshman righty Logan Jones earned his first win of the season and Edward Kutt IV secured his fourth save, but unlike Friday, Toledo showed that it could hang with the Bobcats.
Game 3: Toledo 6 Ohio 5
OK, time for the bad news.
For the first time all series, Ohio was outhit by Toledo (11-7) and it bit the Bobcats in the tail at the end.
Game three was tight throughout but Ohio couldn’t find its magic in the bats and fell to the Rockets 6-5. Hafner and Spencer Harbert each hit home runs, but the patience and precision the Bobcats showed Friday and earlier in the afternoon wasn’t there.
Ohio’s pitching also took a step back in game three. Starter Braxton Kelly didn’t have his best game, giving up nine hits, five runs and five errors in 5.1 innings of work. Still, Ohio was up in the series and had the opportunity to win its first MAC series of the season heading into Sunday’s finale.
Game 4: Toledo 7 Ohio 6
Up 4-1 at the half inning point of the fifth, Ohio looked like it would beat Toledo and finally finish the weekend above .500.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, there was still plenty of baseball left to be played. Toledo went on to tie the game in the fifth and take the lead with three runs in the seventh inning. The Rockets would ultimately secure their comeback with a 7-6 victory.
Ohio hasn’t won Sunday since March 7 and the pattern of starting the series strong but finishing weak is becoming prominent. In just the span of a weekend, the Bobcats can manage to look great, good, average and bad.
Ohio will return to Bob Wren Stadium next weekend for a four-game MAC series against Eastern Michigan. Game one is scheduled for Friday, April 9 at 6 p.m.