Ohio knew that Sunday’s game was huge. Ohio had a chance to take a series from Central Michigan for the first time since 2009. Everything needed to go right for Ohio, but it did not. Central Michigan put Ohio’s offense into a chokehold in the latter half of the game and it couldn’t recover. Ohio lost 10-6.
For the third straight game, the Bobcats scored first. Mason Minzey worked a full count in the bottom of the first for a two-out solo home run. Will Sturek then hit a solo home run of his own to lead off the bottom of the second inning. The Bobcats were trotting down the right path at full speed.
Ohio’s pitching was in time with the offense. Trent Spoon opened the game with two perfect innings, featuring two swinging strikeouts. However, Spoon’s command left him in the third inning. Spoon walked three batters, two of them on full counts, before he was pulled off the mound.
At that point, the Chippewas were up by two runs, and they had gotten into the Bobcats’ heads.
“We talked about it just now in the dugout that on Sundays whether you’re going for a sweep, you’re trying to avoid getting swept or you’re trying to win a series, that Sunday starter has to come out and has to throw strikes and has to go right after guys,” Ohio coach Craig Moore said. “Trent had three walks right there and when you play a team like them that will take advantage of those freebies, those opportunities, it will lead to them scoring four runs in one inning and things like that.”
The Bobcats tried to tip the scales in their favor in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly by Minzey, coupled with an RBI each from Alec Patino and Gideon Antle. Minzey ended the day with the most RBIs for the Bobcats with two and tied for the most hits at two as well. It was also the first weekend Minzey caught three games in a weekend since the 2022 season.
“He’s starting to pick it up a little bit,” Moore said. “We need some other guys in the lineup to pick it up offensively to try and get us a little bit better of a balanced lineup.”
The lack of balance in the lineup hurt the Bobcats on Sunday. The Bobcats could reach the bases on walks, but the lack of consistent hitting beyond the middle of the lineup left nine Bobcats on base. Sprinkles of runs at a time couldn’t save the Bobcats against the well-rounded Chippewas.
Ohio visited the bullpen four times on Sunday. It was grasping for a way to freeze Central Michigan in order to have a chance at a comeback. Zach Weber had been knocked around, and so had Hudson Boncal; Ohio was low on options.
Ohio decided to use Dillion Masters again because it knew he could keep Central Michigan under control. Masters struck out one of the two batters he faced on Friday, so Ohio hoped he could knock out a few more.
Masters struck out four of the seven batters he faced over 2.1 innings. Masters was the only Bobcat pitcher to not surrender a hit to the Chippewas.
The Chippewas may have pushed the Bobcats around, but it was still the Bobcats’ cleanest game of the weekend. It was the first time the Bobcats didn’t make an error in a game since March 4. However, that achievement was overshadowed by the lackluster pitching.
“I want to see us continue to play clean baseball to see if we can get consistent playing clean baseball in terms of the defensive side,” Moore said. “I want to see on the mound if we can execute a little bit better early on in the counts, not having to go to so many even 2-2, 3-3 counts. I think we got ourselves in a lot of those situations this weekend, and so we need to do a better job with that, forcing contact early in the count, trying to let our defense play for us.”
Ohio proved that it has the guts and talent to keep up with the best in the MAC, however, it needs to consistently bring that to the table if it wants to remain within the top half of the conference.