Ohio baseball (15-11, 9-7 Mid-American Conference) picked up its second series sweep of the season this weekend after taking all four games against Eastern Michigan. Timely hitting and dominant pitching performances helped propel the Bobcats over Eastern Michigan (8-17, 4-12 MAC) for their eighth win in a row over the Eagles.
Here is a recap from Ohio’s weekend:
Game 1: 6-3 Ohio
Bobcats’ ace Joe Rock was on the mound for game one and had a slower start than usual. Rock allowed eight hits and three runs to the Eagles, however, his relievers came in and kept the Eagles from tacking on more runs. Edward Kutt IV made his first appearance of the weekend in game one, striking out four. Closer Brett Manis also made his first appearance and earned his first save of the weekend.
The bats came out in support of the pitching staff early in this one. Ohio immediately answered Eastern Michigan in the top of the third to tie the game 1-1 off of an RBI single by Alex Finney. The Eagles were able to take the lead in the top of the fourth, but the Bobcats recaptured it with two pairs of runs in the sixth and seventh.
Game 2: 4-3 Ohio
It was an early morning for both teams as game two started earlier than planned to beat out a rainstorm. The Bobcats were not awake in the first few innings of this game, causing them to commit more errors. Ohio left the game with a season-high of four errors, but were able to make up for them offensively.
Once again, Eastern Michigan scored in the top of the first. The Eagles had two runs in the column when Harry Witwer-Dukes stepped up to the plate and sent a game-tying homerun over the left field wall to score himself and Isaiah Peterson. Peterson would then hit a homerun of his own in the bottom of the third to give Ohio a 3-2 lead.
Eastern Michigan was not ready to give up yet and tied the game once again in the top of the sixth. Ohio was unable to produce a run in the last two innings of the game, sending game one of the doubleheader into extra innings.
The Eagles finally made an error of their own in the bottom of the ninth to give Ohio the walk-off win. Tanner Piechnick sent a bouncing ball back to the pitcher for a routine play, but reached safely after a throwing error was made. Sebastian Fabik was able to reach home on this play and Ohio was able to end the game.
Game 3: 2-1 Ohio
Ohio got set for its second game on Saturday, unknowing that it would also be forced into extra innings.
Freshman Logan Jones threw a gem that afternoon, allowing two hits and one run over seven and two-thirds innings of work. However, the win that day would go to closer Brett Manis who came in and shut the door on the Eagles.
All three scoring plays this game were off of homeruns. Eastern Michigan’s Christian Bault knocked the first one of the day in the second inning and Ohio’s Treyben Funderburg took home the second with a shot to left as well. These hits kept the game tied for seven innings, until the third ball was sent over the fence.
Aaron Levy’s first homerun of the season could not have come at a better time. His line drive to left gave Ohio the walk-off win in game three and its second of the series. The Bobcats’ spirits were high after game three because they had secured the series win, but there was still one more game to go.
Game 4: 3-2 Ohio
The longball was once again important in picking up the win for Ohio. The Bobcats were down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh as Peterson stepped up to bat for the final time Sunday. He already had one hit on the day and earned his second on a game-winning two-run homerun to left. Ohio now had a one-run lead and decided to call on Manis once again to secure the win.
Manis earned his fourth season save that afternoon. He faced five batters and struck out three to put the save on his name. He entered the game during a bases-loaded jam started by reliever Chace Harris in the bottom of the eighth and was able to work out of it with a groundball and a strikeout to retire the Eagles.
“He’s the best closer in the conference for a reason,” interim head coach Craig Moore said.
Looking ahead to next weekend, the Bobcats will travel to Northern Illinois for another four-game series. Coach Moore hopes to see consistency from his team and hopes they continue to produce at the plate. Ohio is now ranked sixth overall in the MAC after this weekend and is looking to climb the standings after its next conference series.