A long season means time to learn, adapt and grow.
Ohio has been doing just that since its first game at USC Upstate Feb. 18. Since, it’s had a mostly-positive season, with Ohio earning a bid to the Mid-American Conference Tournament after finishing 21-15 in conference play and 29-22 overall.
Here are some things The Post learned from the 2022 Ohio Baseball season:
Ohio can compete
If there were any doubts that Ohio couldn’t keep up with top contenders in the MAC, they are squashed now. Over the past five years, Ohio has consistently fallen to the bottom of the pack; however, this season, it finished fourth. Ohio made its name by getting big wins and splitting series against powerhouses like Ball State and Toledo.
With these crucial wins, Ohio secured a spot in the top four for the first time since 2017 and earned the fourth seed in the MAC Tournament.
Consistent innings are key
Ohio churned out 29 wins this season because it knew how to build on its own momentum and extend innings. Ohio’s bats were fiery this season. Its .296 batting average was good for second-best in the MAC.
Simply getting a hit here or there throughout the game didn’t cut it. In the first game of the Miami doubleheader April 30, Ohio outhit its opponent 8-7. However, most of the Bobcats’ hits came one inning at a time, which did not allow for any big offensive production. In the end, the Bobcats lost 5-1.
The more big innings Ohio has, the more likely its chance to win. Ohio won 12 games when it scored 10 or more runs. That includes its 21-6 win at Bowling Green.
A.J. Rausch is an emerging leader
In his first season at Bob Wren Stadium, Rausch became a key part of Ohio’s offense. He wasted no time making his mark on the team by helping Ohio upset Kentucky March 9 on the road, with a game-winning RBI and game-saving catch.
From there, Rausch’s impact on the team grew. He finished the season with 64 hits — the third-most on the team. He also scored 43 runs in his first season with Ohio. If he stays on his current path, Rausch’s impact may be felt for years to come.
Upperclassmen pitchers will be missed
Although Ohio will be saying goodbye to many talented upperclassmen at the plate, some of the greatest losses may be felt on the mound. Most of its most trustworthy pitchers are seniors and fifth-years, including Edward Kutt IV, Brett Manis, and Brenden Roder. Kutt and Manis were Ohio’s go-to starter and closer duo this season, pitching in many of the same games.
Kutt finished this season with a team-high 82 strikeouts and even broke Ohio’s all-time strikeout record April 29. He’s been a machine on the mound all season and has the ability to pitch long games. May 19, Kutt pitched a full eight innings against Western Michigan and earned six strikeouts. After he left the game, Manis pitched one inning and got the save, his fifth of the season.
Like Kutt and Manis, Roder has been a key part of Ohio’s pitching lineup. He didn’t have the strongest start to the season, but it didn’t take long for him to grow into his role on the team. The senior played in 13 games, nine of which he started. Roder finished with a 4.94 ERA, the ninth-best in the MAC. It is unclear if Roder will return for a fifth year, but he may become Ohio’s new go-to if he returns.