Ohio had power in game two of its doubleheader against Toledo. However, it didn’t always have that spark.
The Bobcats limped through game one. Their bats were alive and well, but their lackluster pitching effort neutralized any positive effort on offense.
Starter Jake Tate lasted four innings into the seven inning game. However, Tate allowed five runs. His outing Sunday tied his most runs allowed this season. Tate had allowed five runs in two previous appearances this season, once against Kent State in mid-March and again in Ohio’s series against Central Michigan.
Tate wasn’t the only pitcher Toledo tore into, however. Toledo scored two or more runs off relievers Eamon Horwedel and Zach Weber. Toledo was more savvy than Ohio on offense. The Rockets used various bunting tactics to get runners on base. Ohio and Toledo each had three extra-base hits, but Toledo capitalized on the moments in between to score.
The Rockets used the Bobcats’ mistakes to their advantage. The Bobcats had more mental errors than physical ones, and it cost them an 11-5 loss in game one Sunday.
Ohio knew going into game two that it needed to center itself. It needed to rekindle the fire it had earlier in the weekend or else Toledo would win the series.
“In between games, our hitting coach came up to us and gave us a big speech, saying, ‘We need to come back this game. It’s a big game for us (and) could really change our season around,’” designated hitter Will Sturek said. “Just listening to those words really helped us through (game two).”
When game two began, the Bobcats wasted no time getting on the board. They struck first in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI single by Colin Kasperbauer. From that moment on, the Bobcats maintained the lead and controlled the game. Toledo tried to make up for lost time in the final three innings, but Ohio was miles ahead.
The power shift from game one to game two was stark, but the Bobcats handled it with poise. They worked as a team to keep scoring runs alive. For the first time all series, the Bobcats appeared to all be on the same page.
Sturek and Michael Richardson were catalysts for Ohio’s offense. Sturek ended game two with three RBIs, and Richardson had two. The duo kept Ohio rolling by reaching base any way they could.
“Offense creates momentum, (and) momentum creates energy,” Ohio coach Craig Moore said. “I felt like our offense did what they had to do this weekend in order to possibly win a series … Our guys are a good hitting team.”
Just like hitting, pitching was no longer an issue in game two. Starter Brenden Roder was productive and stayed in the game for seven innings. Roder kept innings brief by inducing routine plays.
Roder only struck out two during his time on the mound, but the senior’s ability to throw with confidence even when his slider wasn’t falling right kept Toledo from climbing. Even when Toledo scored two runs in the seventh inning, Roder didn’t crack.
Ohio was untouchable because of its synchronicity, and it powered through to a 10-3 victory in game two.
The Bobcats are still in the bottom half of the Mid-American Conference standings, and their conference schedule is reaching its midpoint. If they can figure out how to keep themselves in check over the next few weeks, the Bobcats can make a run for the MAC Tournament.