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Ohio’s Jack Liberatore (12) begins his pitching motion in the first inning against Kent State on Sunday, March 22, 2022 at Bob Wren Stadium.

Baseball: Ohio comes back to beat Kent State 8-7, wins series

There was no obstacle Ohio (10-7, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) couldn’t handle Sunday. 

The Bobcats battled back from a six-run deficit to defeat the Golden Flashes 8-7 at Bob Wren Stadium and win the series — their first against the Golden Flashes since 2017. When the game wasn’t going their way in the first inning, the Bobcats didn’t fret. They knew all they had to do was just focus and compete. 

“Getting down six to nothing early after two innings on a Sunday (in) game four, it's very easy for teams to roll over and die,” Ohio coach Craig Moore said. “I told these guys that's not who we are, and they responded.”

After just the third at-bat of the game, Ohio found itself behind. Starting pitcher Jack Liberatore allowed a walk then placed the ball in the perfect spot for Kent State’s Aidan Longwell to hit a two-run home run. 

The same situation occurred again just moments later. Liberatore walked another player then gave up another two-run home run to Mike McNamara. Liberatore had trouble keeping the ball over the plate and only pitched for one and two-thirds innings Sunday. 

Luckily for Ohio, Kent State’s offense got cold shortly thereafter. After totaling seven hits in the first four innings, it only mustered two more hits in the remaining five. After scoring six runs in the first two innings, Kent State scored its only other run in the fourth inning and never scored again.

When Kent State (6-8, 2-4 MAC) went frigid, Ohio heated up. It had big, offensive spurts at the perfect moments. A three-run third inning gave Ohio the taste of hope it needed to stay in the game. That was where Ohio got started climbing out of its deficit, thanks to a single by A.J. Rausch and an RBI single by Isaiah Peterson. 

Ohio was also able to capitalize on some key mistakes by Kent State in the third. Xavier Haendiges was walked in his at-bat, then he later scored on a wild pitch. Peterson also advanced to third on the wild pitch, which pushed him into a better position to score. 

Just like he did Saturday, Mason Minzey hit a home run to cut into Kent State’s lead even more. Minzey had two home runs in Ohio’s game two win against Kent State on Saturday and continued his success at the plate Sunday. 

Another player who has had success at the plate recently is Colin Kasperbauer. Kasperbauer’s RBI double in the seventh inning tied the game and nearly completed Ohio’s climb back to the top. The double marked his 15th consecutive game with a hit. 

“Colin’s a guy that works at the craft,” Ohio coach Craig Moore said. “He puts the extra time in the cages before or after practice, things like that. Like I always say, guys do that, (and) they'll get rewarded. You may not get rewarded right away, but you will get rewarded. He's getting rewarded thus far this season.”

In the eighth inning, A.J. Rausch gave Ohio its first lead of the day. He hit a solo blast out of the park to make it an 8-7 game and seal the win for Ohio. 

Moore said the series win against Kent State is a big one. Kent State was projected to be a top team in the MAC this season, and it poses a threat to Ohio every season.

“It's huge to come out and take a series from those guys who year in and year out are out the top of the league,” Moore said. “It feels great. I'm so happy and proud of this team for how they stayed with the game and how they competed today.”


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