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Ohio infielder, Bryce Smith (12), looks to the infield during a game against Central Michigan at Bob Wren Stadium, March 23, 2024, in Athens.

Baseball: Bullpen shines despite loss to Central Michigan

Ohio (8-13 overall, 4-5 Mid-American Conference) lost its series against Central Michigan (6-18 overall, 3-6 MAC) after losing the final game of the series by a score of 7-2.

The usually potent Bobcat offense went cold on Sunday, scoring only 2 runs from a sacrifice fly and a passed ball and recording only six hits without recording an extra-base hit. 

In most wins this season, Ohio has been the hitting and explosive offense that has kept it in games with an opportunity to win them, while the starting pitching has struggled. Sunday’s series finale did not see the explosive offense come to Ohio’s rescue, and the starting pitching remained consistent with its performance throughout the year.

With the starting pitching and offense coming up short, it was up to the bullpen to provide a positive light to Sunday’s game, and it did just that.

Ohio’s starting pitcher on Sunday, Blake Gaskey, only made it through the first two innings before being pulled from the game.

Gaskey’s day ended with him allowing four hits, 6 runs and walking a staggering six batters. Control was the biggest problem for Gaskey, who threw 65 total pitches, with only 28 of them being called strikes. 

Gaskey was pulled in favor of junior relief pitcher Zack Weber, who went on to have a phenomenal day on the bump. 

Weber’s pitching performance was one of the key reasons Ohio stayed in striking distance of the Central Michigan lead if the offense could get going. 

Weber’s day finished after five innings out of the bullpen, a good workload for a starter, let alone a relief pitcher. In those five innings, he allowed just four total hits, 1 run, and only walked three batters. He earned six strikeouts as well, displaying his ability to get opposing batters to whiff on his fastball. 

Ohio infielder, Billy Adams (11), steps to throw the ball from second base inbetween innings during a game against Central Michigan at Bob Wren Stadium, March 23, 2024, in Athens.
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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.

After Weber’s day was done, in came fellow junior relief pitcher Hudson Boncal from the bullpen. Boncal came in for the 8th and final inning but was very efficient in his time on the mound. Boncal got out of the inning giving up just a single hit, as well as getting a strikeout and completing the inning in just nine total pitches. 

“He just pounded the zone … he’s got the capabilities to do that,” said Moore. “To come in and go right after hitters and be able to get them out with strikeouts and things like that. It was good to see him come in and just attack.” 

Unfortunately for Ohio, the offense did not capitalize on the stellar pitching out of the bullpen, and in the result, gave Central Michigan its first in-conference series win. 

Ohio returns to Bob Wren Stadium to play a weeknight game against Dayton on Tuesday, and hopefully for Ohio, the bullpen can keep producing at an elite level. 


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