The Bobcats (5-5) held on to beat the Wildcats 9-8 in Lexington on Wednesday. The win is arguably their biggest so far this season because it was a huge morale boost and an impressive upset.
After the first two innings against Kentucky (11-3), Ohio led by seven runs. The game was Ohio’s to lose. But as soon as Ohio thought it was home free, Kentucky battled back to tie the game at 8-8 in the eighth inning. At that point, it seemed as if Ohio was going to lose.
But, Ohio never let that thought cross its mind. The Bobcats knew the win was theirs.
The Bobcats’ victory was fueled in part by their strong start. Ohio wasted no time making it hard for Kentucky starter Zack Lee not to get frustrated. Isaiah Peterson hit single to left center in the first at bat of the game to put a Bobcat on base. Right after that, Alex Finney hit a single to left field to keep the offense alive. Before Kentucky could blink an eye, Ohio led 3-0.
Ohio wasn’t done there, though.
In the second inning, the Bobcats had four RBIs on two hits to make their lead 7-0. They capitalized on all of their hits and left only one runner on base at the end of the inning. The Bobcats have struggled with leaving multiple runners on base so far this season. It has cost them a handful of runs — games even.
It wasn’t until the seventh inning when the game started to take a turn. Ohio’s starting pitcher, Brenden Roder, had already left the game after giving up one run in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. Reliever Chace Harris then gave up three hits and four runs in the seventh, which cut Ohio’s lead to two.
By the ninth inning, the game was tied. In that moment, Ohio looked to the middle of its lineup to make something happen.
When AJ Rausch stepped up to the plate, he was 0-for-4 at the plate. However, the outfielder didn’t let the numbers get in his head. After taking two balls and two strikes, Rausch swung, and hit a single to right field for the game winning RBI.
However, the game was not over yet. Ohio still had to get three more outs, and Rausch stepped up again. This time, in the field.
With two outs and one man on base, Kentucky’s Kirk Liebert hit a ball to deep right field. The ball looked as if it was going right over Rausch’s head. However, he made a leaping catch to end the game.
Ohio’s relief pitcher Colin Sells got the win, while Kentucky’s Austin Strickland, who gave up the single in the ninth, got the loss.
The upset could not have come at a more perfect time for Ohio. It’s about to enter the first weekend of Mid-American Conference play. Ohio could potentially use the upset to help propel it through this weekend and the rest of the season.