Friday’s conditions were not ideal for baseball. The wind whipped across the field at Bob Wren Stadium and the temperature dropped with each passing minute. The weather was partially to blame for Ohio’s 8-5 loss to Central Michigan.
The Bobcats had to be on top their game for multiple reasons. The Chippewas are one of the best teams in the Mid-American Conference; they’d capitalize on any mistake that the Bobcats made. Factor in the conditions, and the Bobcats needed to have a near perfect performance in order to take a win.
“Playing in these elements, that’s just kind of what you have to expect,” Ohio coach Craig Moore said. “It heightens everything. It heightens the pitch execution, keeping the ball down. It heightens making plays defensively.”
Central Michigan didn’t let Ohio get comfortable at any point in the game. It scored back-to-back runs in the first inning on a groundout and a single. Ohio didn’t let its opponent get too far ahead, though. Mason Minzey ripped a double through right center to give Ohio its first run of the day.
Just when the Bobcats thought they had something going, the Chippewas crashed the party with two home runs. Garrett Navarra hit a three-run shot to right center and then two at-bats later, Nate Dardas hit a two-run knock to left field.
Ohio got sucker punched into a six-run hole before it reached the middle innings.
However, as the Chippewas danced and sang in their dugout, the Bobcats regrouped. They were determined to clean up their act before it was too late.
Colin Sells came in to relieve Luke Olson in the top of the sixth inning. Sells, who had only made brief appearances so far this season, was electric over the 2.1 innings he pitched.
Central Michigan shook a run out of Sells in the seventh on a wild pitch, but that did not stop him from collecting three strikeouts in the inning. All six of Sells’ strikeouts from his appearance were swinging.
Meanwhile, Ohio had collected a few more runs. Alec Patino laced a single through the right side for an RBI and Will Sturek hit his second home run of the season — a high three-run shot to right — to bring Ohio within striking distance.
“I thought that the pitching staff in the second half of the game, they gave us an opportunity with the wind blowing around and the offense we have going into the eighth ninth inning down three runs,” Moore said. “I felt confident that maybe we could score some runs there.”
That confidence soon faded out, though. The Bobcats weren’t able to muster any last-minute strength and the Chippewas took the first game of the series.
Ohio knows that it did not play clean baseball on Friday, and that cannot fly against Central Michigan. It also knows that its energy was not where it needed to be to keep up with a team of Central Michigan’s caliber.
“We must come out and match the energy that they have. If we don’t, then it could be a very long, long weekend,” Moore said.