Ohio (19-30, 15-15 Mid-American Conference) needed a miracle over the weekend versus Akron (21-34, 12-18 Mid-American Conference) if it wanted to extend its season and advance to the Mid-American Conference tournament. The Bobcats needed to win all three games and hope that Western Michigan would be swept by Central Michigan.
The team couldn’t deliver. Ohio lost two of three to Akron, ending its once-promising season in disappointing fashion. Here’s all you need to know about Ohio’s final games of the 2023 season.
On Thursday, Ohio struggled to get anything going on offense early in the game. It took a late two-out rally in the ninth for Ohio to pull within one. It proved to be too little too late, however, and Ohio fell 7-6, officially eliminating them from tournament contention.
Dillon Masters started the game for Ohio. The lefty struggled out of the gate, allowing three runs in the first two innings to put Ohio in an early hole. Masters ended up going four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, with three strikeouts.
Offensively, Ohio added a run in each of the fourth and fifth innings including RBIs from Gideon Antle and Mason Minzey. Ohio was only able to score two runs heading into the ninth inning, where the offense scored four.
Tyler Peck was on the mound for Ohio following Masters' four-inning start. Peck posted similar numbers to Masters with four innings of work, while allowing five hits and three earned runs.
The rally started with three straight singles from Alex Finney, Alec Patino and Minzey’s RBI single. Three straight singles were followed by a three-run home run from Will Sturek that brought the score to 7-6 in the ninth.
Colin Kasperbauer stepped to the plate representing the tying run for Ohio, however, Kasperbauer ended the game with a flyout to left field.
The Bobcats suffered a devastating loss in game two, falling 7-6 despite a late four-run lead.
Finney got the game started with a double down the left field line that had Ohio’s offense on a roll early. Finney would come around to score on a ground ball from Minzey.
Akron was able to add two in the second to take the lead off of starter Jacob Tate. The Zips weren’t able to score off of Tate for the remainder of his outing. Tate went six innings, allowing three hits and two runs while picking up five strikeouts. The two runs that Tate allowed were a result of a two-run home run from Breydan Cavey.
Ohio tied the game in the third with a Sturek single that scored Patino who reached on a fielding error earlier in the inning. Sturek was not only responsible for tying the game in the third but also taking the lead in the fifth with an RBI double down the left-field line that scored Finney.
Ohio was able to add three runs in the seventh to take a 6-2 lead. All three runs in the seventh were unearned due to three errors made by Akron in the inning. Akron only allowed one earned run throughout the game despite the six runs that crossed the plate for Ohio.
Zach Weber started on the mound in the eighth for Ohio, prior to the eighth Weber had pitched a scoreless inning in the seventh. Weber was run out of the game after allowing a lead-off walk followed by three singles that scored a run and left the bases loaded.
Braxton Kelly entered for Weber in the eighth and immediately gave up a two-RBI double to Sam Seeker. Kelly would go on to allow the go-ahead run in the eighth. It was a five-run inning for the Zips, who went on to win the game in the ninth after Ohio failed to score.
Saturday was the only game that Ohio was able to win against Akron. A 3-1 victory is how the Bobcats ended the 2023 season.
Two great pitching performances headlined Ohio’s win. Colin Sells and Hudson Boncal were both dominant. Sells was the starter, going five innings while allowing only two hits, including a home run from Jack Firestone, Akron's only run of the game.
Boncal entered in relief of Sells in the sixth with a 3-1 lead. The righty started his day with three straight strikeouts in the sixth. Boncal finished the game with a four-inning save where he allowed no hits and no runs while striking out seven. Boncal only allowed one baserunner which came from a walk in the ninth.
Ohio’s offense wasn’t as productive as it was in its previous two games versus Akron, but it didn’t need to be.
The Bobcats were once again helped out by some shaky defense from the Zips, who committed three errors, including one in the first that allowed one run and one in the fourth that later allowed 2 more unearned runs.
Minzey was the only Bobcat to pick up an RBI in the game, a groundout that scored Finney in the first. All of Ohio’s runs were unearned.
Ohio was able to end the year on a win, however, it did not get the results that it had hoped for to end the season.