Ohio’s bullpen labored in Saturday’s doubleheader where Ohio split with Miami to win the series. Although Ohio won two games, it did not hold a lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning in any of the three games.
The Bobcats are now deep into their season with only four more Mid-American Conference series before the MAC Tournament at the end of May. After two and a half months of play, pitchers often begin to get tired and wear down a bit.
Ohio has relied heavily on its bullpen all season long and with two huge series against Ball State and Kent State on the horizon, the team can’t rely on its bullpen to deliver every game and allow the team to come back.
“Having a good bullpen is huge,” Ohio coach Craig Moore said. “Knowing that you can count on guys that are down there to get the job done and throw up zeroes.”
In game one of the doubleheader, starter Mitchel Hemmen lasted four innings before being relieved by Jacob Tate. At that moment, the Bobcats trailed the Redhawks 5-3.
Tate labored for four innings, where he gave up three runs. In the eighth, the offense finally woke up, but it was down by five. It took a Mason Minzey three-run home run to put the Bobcats back up on top.
Going into the ninth, the Bobcats had miraculously gotten out to a two-run lead with a seven-run eighth inning. Braxton Kelly entered as the closer and needed just three outs to win the game for the Bobcats.
Kelly was put into almost the exact same situation on Friday night, where he delivered. On Saturday, he couldn’t come through. Pitching his second day in a row, Kelly gave up four runs en route to a Miami win.
“It’s when you get into these close games, late-inning type games. If your bullpen isn't quite up to it, it can lead to some losses,” Moore said.
The game one loss was not on Kelly’s poor performance in the ninth but rather on the whole team's inability to retire the Miami hitters in the earlier innings.
Miami is far from the best opponent that Ohio will face down the stretch. With opponents who currently rank ahead of Ohio in the MAC such as Ball State and Kent State, Ohio needs to perform better in the early innings if they want to have a chance to win the big games that would deliver the team a MAC title.
In game two of the doubleheader, Ohio went with Tyler Peck to start the game on the mound. Peck got hit around a lot in the first two innings of the game before being pulled for Hudson Boncal in the fourth.
Boncal gave the offense every opportunity that it needed to come back in the game, but a two-out double with the bases loaded from Miami’s Cooper Weiss made the Bobcat lead disappear.
Dillon Masters came in to relieve Boncal and the lefty was nearly perfect, delivering 3 ⅓ scoreless innings which allowed Ohio to win the game in the tenth on a walk-off single from Alec Patino.
“You can really never count us out, especially after last night,” Masters said.
Ohio got the win, but it required yet another comeback for the team that has won nearly all of its games in comeback fashion.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated that Jacob Tate gave up four runs when he actually gave up three runs. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.