One outing per week isn’t easy for a pitcher, let alone two.
Brenden Roder did that with ease, however. In Ohio’s 8-7 win over Kent State on Sunday, Roder threw six and one-third innings to help secure the series win. He did that while working on short rest. He’d started four days earlier against Marshall. The senior had only thrown two innings in that Wednesday appearance, during which he allowed one run and four hits. But his low pitch count allowed Roder to bounce back in time for the last half of Ohio’s weekend series with Kent State.
The idea of fatigue was far from the senior’s mind while he was moving through his relief appearance on Sunday, though. Marshall was in the past, and Kent State was his new target.
Roder inherited a six-run deficit from starter Jack Liberatore when he entered Sunday against the Golden Flashes. It was a considerable task to stop Kent State from bashing the ball, but Roder stayed confident.
He planned to attack the zone like he always does. That’s his motto.
“Whatever the count is, whoever’s up, doesn’t matter,” Roder said. “Throw strikes, no walks, and that’s how I’ve always done it.”
Roder used his fastball to fool the Kent State batters. He was crafty in changing location to get strikes where he wanted them, but that was not the only pitch he used.
The senior’s main pitch was his slider. Mostly down in the lower half of the strike zone, Roder’s slider was prominent in helping draw ground balls. Roder drew 10 groundouts from the Golden Flashes. He allowed four hits and didn’t walk a single batter. The right-hander held down the mound with ease. His stood with poise on the mound and didn’t waiver while Ohio regained energy. Roder was in his own space and on his own time.
All that he could think to do was follow his motto and find a way to put zeros on the scoreboard — which he did. The only run scored while he was on the mound came in the fourth inning off a single by Aidan Longwell. Other than that moment, Roder was lights out. He never faced more than six batters in one inning. Even when runners got on base, Roder left them stranded.
Ohio is in the market for another arm in the rotation, and that spot may soon belong to Roder. He was the one to start against Kentucky, and he allowed just one run in four innings. Now, after fending off Marshall and Kent State in one week, Roder has solidified his groove.
Ohio coach Craig Moore sees that.
“He’s been continuing getting better at each outing this spring,” Moore said. “He’s probably going to be in mind to be in the rotation.”
Oddly enough, Roder didn’t pitch last spring. He hasn’t played since his sophomore season. His first game this spring — a loss to USC Upstate — wasn’t pretty, but now he’s ready to go.
Roder is Ohio’s best-kept secret. But with the way his season has started, he won’t be a secret for long.