Ohio (26-19, 16-7 Mid-American Conference) clashed with Toledo (19-24, 12-13 MAC) on Wednesday in a doubleheader. Toledo won game one smoothly with a score of 11-3, but Ohio won game two 10-9.
Toledo brought the pressure from the first at-bat. It rolled into a fast start and quickly loaded the bases. Lauren Erickson wiped the bases with a triple to right field that was out of reach of CiCi Keidel’s diving attempt. Erickson put Toledo up 3-0 in a snap.
Emma Hoffner hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to put the Bobcats on the board. The next batter, Annalia Paoli, then hit a home run over the left field fence to tie the game at 3-3.
Toledo began a commanding string of runs in the third inning. Toledo picked up runs on a double by Aubrey Reed to score her sister, Arika, followed by a throwing error. Toledo was unstoppable from there.
Every starting player for Toledo either got a hit or a run, with the biggest performance coming from Erickson who set the tempo. She went 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs and one run. For Ohio, the chances to drive in runners failed time and time again as they couldn’t replicate Toledo’s performance. Ohio left nine runners on base.
One element of game one that seemed to cost the Bobcats more than anything was the errors on defense. The Rockets made the Bobcats feel the consequences of not closing out innings. The Bobcats gave away several unearned runs. Sophia Knight led the Rockets to six straight clean innings for the squad, shutting down the Bobcats with the 11-3 victory.
The Rockets continued the offensive storm into game two of the doubleheader. Within four batters, Rockets were up 3-0 with no outs and two errors committed by the Bobcats. The runs were made by lead-off batter Leah Munson, Anna Dixon, Jenna Kroll and Riley Mohr.
Ohio needed to rally in a big way or else the game could get out of hand by the first inning. Paoli stepped into the box with Yasmine Logan and Hoffner on base, and in a déjà vu experience for the fans, Paoli crushed a ball over the left field fence to tie the game at 3-3 — the exact score and nearly the same spot that she assembled in game one as a result of her home run.
“It’s definitely a team effort all around, I couldn’t do it by myself, my teammates get on base, and I hit them in or vice versa Paoli said.
Paoli hit 5-for-7 with two home runs, five runs and six RBIs during Wednesday’s doubleheader It was one of the best performances by a Bobcat this year.
Dixon and Kroll quickly put the game back into Toledo’s hand as Dixon’s double drove in two runners and Kroll’s single to drive Dixon in for the second time put the Rockets up 6-3.
Ohio came up empty in the second but struck gold in the bottom third. Sydney Grein doubled to right-center field to bring in pinch-runner Emily Walker. Shelby Westler finished the strong inning with her own double to center, driving in two runners to tie the game.
Both teams were waiting to see who would score again, and it was Toledo. Kroll once again brought in Dixon for the lead. She was followed by Reed and Erickson, who each drove in a runner to put the Rockets ahead 9-6.
In the bottom of the seventh down by three, Alexis Dawe smacked a single into center field After two wild pitches by Knight, Dawe advanced all the way to third base with no outs to revive the Bobcats.
Down by one with two outs, Keidel stepped up to the plate and delivered a line drive to tie the game. However, Ohio didn’t get the winning run in that inning. Toledo tagged Keidel at the plate when she tried to score from second on a single to send the game into extra innings.
The Bobcats squashed the Rockets’ hopes in the eighth to earn themselves a chance back at the plate. Paoli walked to put a runner on for the Bobcats and then Grein put her in scoring position on a single.
Shelby Westler hit a double over Dixon’s head and off the wall to complete the walk-off victory for Ohio as Paoli touched the plate for her fourth run of the game. Westler received the team’s hard hat, which is given out to the players for making a great play, which Westler proudly wore in postgame after her walk-off RBI.
“I’m just really proud of their fight at the end,“ Ohio coach Jenna Hall stated. “We started out a bit slow and sloppy but being present enough to step up when we need you and I think the confidence continued to rise.”
Ohio’s game one loss did put the Bobcats one game behind Central Michigan for first place, but Ohio will continue the push for hosting the MAC Tournament with the one seed.
“We don’t change our preparation; we just go after the team that we’re up against. “It can’t change, just need to handle it when we need to but stay consistent” Coach Hall stated.