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Ohio outfielder, Gideon Antle (18), slides into second base during a game against Central Michigan at Bob Wren Stadium, March 23, 2024, in Athens.

Baseball: Ohio takes 1 of 2 in doubleheader against Central Michigan

Ohio (8-12 overall, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) took home a victory in the second game of its Saturday doubleheader against Central Michigan (5-18 overall, 2-6 MAC) by a score of 18-3 after falling in Game 1.

Ohio was held to just three hits in Game 1 while its pitching struggled, giving up 6 runs as a staff. Game 2 represented a complete turnaround on both sides of the ball.

Game 1

Dillon Masters took the mound for Ohio in Game 1, making his third start of the year. Masters, who has been seen in the rotation and bullpen in his career, didn’t get off to the start Ohio needed.

Masters was able to get two outs around a Central Michigan single. Central Michigan had a couple of two-out hits including a 3-run home run from Mikey Murphy. The Chippewas saw the ball well against Masters, tallying 10 hits and 6 runs in the 3 1/3 innings that Masters pitched.

Ohio’s pitching woes were in no way supplemented by a particularly strong offensive effort. Ohio was only able to tally three hits over nine innings, only one of which came in the first three innings.

The Bobcats' lone run of the evening came from an RBI single by Bryce Smith, which scored Alex Finney from second base. 

Ohio’s offensive woes were in large part due to a spectacular start from Central Michigan’s Adam Mrakitisch. Across seven innings, Mrakitisch allowed three hits and 1 run while striking out eight total batters. Bryce Hellgeth came in to close out the game, pitching back-to-back hitless innings.

Ohio outfielder/right hand pitcher, Pauly Mancino (5), during a game against Central Michigan at Bob Wren Stadium, March 23, 2024, in Athens.

One of the only high points from Game 1 was the performance of Ohio pitcher Luke Olson who has struggled to start the season after being named Ohio’s opening-day starter. Saturday, coming out of the bullpen, Olson gave Ohio 3 2/3 innings, in which he allowed three hits and no runs.

“He’s thrown the last few times really, really well, especially today,“ Ohio Coach Craig Moore said. “He came in and got zeroes at the end of the game, kind of gave our offense a chance to possibly get back into the game a little bit by throwing some shutdown innings.”

Despite the strong performance out of the bullpen from Olson, Ohio’s offense was simply outmatched by Central Michigan’s impressive game from the mound. 

Game 2

After losing the opening game of the doubleheader and being held to just three hits total, Ohio, and its offense specifically, bounced back in a huge way, putting up 18 runs on 21 total hits. 

Tim Knapschaefer opened the game on the mound for Ohio and got out to a hot start in the first inning, allowing only one hit without any runs and keeping the score tied at 0-0 after Ohio failed to get on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. 

The very next inning, that 0-0 would be changed after a home run to deep right field from catcher Jackson Cauthron. That solo shot delivered a much-needed spark of energy to the Ohio dugout who in the previous 10 innings had just four total hits and 1 run scored.

“Jackson really sparkplugged us with that big homer,” junior centerfielder Gideon Antle said. “And then we just let the bats roll.”

The bats did exactly that after Cauthron started the hitting party with his homer. The Bobcats would go on to score 17 more runs and tally 19 more hits with every member of the starting lineup recording at least one hit. 

A multitude of players chipping in on the offensive duties has been a constant this year, and the Bobcats are finding their stride. 

“Our offense is good, plain and simple, you know at times it doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup,” Moore said. “It was good to see everybody get going on the same page at the same time. When you can do that, obviously (you) see the result.” 

While the bats were rolling, Tim Knapschaefer was holding it down on the mound, pitching five innings and allowing 3 runs. Ohio has lacked consistently solid starting pitching all year, and despite some issues with control in the zone, Knapschaefer provided solid and stable pitching. 

“It was good, he kind of lost control of the zone a little bit with hit-by-pitches but that was by plan, we were trying to pitch into the wind a little bit so we wanted to pitch in today against the right-handed hitters,” said Moore. “It was a grind start for him he was just grinding through and did a really good job for us.” 

Ohio right hand pitcher, Tyler Peck (6), steps to pitch the ball during a game against Central Michigan at Bob Wren Stadium, March 23, 2024, in Athens.

With Knapschaefer holding down the mound, Gideon Antle served as the engine of the Ohio offense, as he often does. Antle had an absurd game at the plate, going 5-5 with three doubles and five RBIs. 

“I was just able to get my swing off,” Antle said. “(I) fouled off good pitches, I just was able to get my pitch and not chase. (That) kinda got me in trouble a little bit in the first game ... (I was) able to get my pitch and drive it.” 

A win of that nature will get any team fired up, and it especially boosts momentum and energy heading into the series finale on Sunday. 

“That’s the biggest thing," Antle said. "(It) gives us the momentum going into Game 3 tomorrow which is a huge series for us to win. You can obviously tell they don’t like us, we don’t really like them, we’re going to come tomorrow and we’re going to be ready to step on them.” 



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