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Gideon Antle (18) and AJ Rausch (7) celebrate at the Ohio University vs University of Illinois Chicago Baseball game at Bob Wren Stadium, March 2, 2024.

Baseball: Ohio hands Bowling Green first conference loss of season in dramatic series

Ohio (11-24, 7-14 Mid-American Conference) traveled to Bowling Green (22-12 overall, 17-1 MAC) to take on the No. 1 team in the MAC. Ohio looked to bounce back after a tough loss against Dayton on Tuesday, losing 7-5 after failing to make a comeback.

After two of Ohio’s most significant losses of the season, the team came back Sunday and handed Bowling Green its first conference loss of the season and its first loss at home all year. 

First Game 

Game one did not end in Ohio’s favor, falling by a final score of 14-5. 

Junior Dillon Masters started game one on the mound for the Bobcats. Masters has been the best-starting pitcher for Ohio in terms of ERA, posting a 6.41 ERA in 26 appearances.

Bowling Green started red-hot from the first batter of the game, with a lead-off home run on the first pitch. Masters composed himself after this, not allowing any more runs to be scored the rest of the inning.

In the top of the second inning, Ohio had a chance to tie the game but failed after graduate student Trenton Neuer was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a single to left field by freshman JR Nelson.

Master's allowed the first two runners of the second inning to reach base and later score after a single and an error. Two unearned runs were credited to the defense after a JR Nelson error.

In the fifth inning, Ohio was able to score after Nelson walked and found himself on third following a balk and a stolen base. Alex Finney later scored Nelson with a single to left field. After Ohio’s first tally of the ballgame, the score was 4-1. 

Bowling Green began to find its legs on offense in the middle innings and put the game out of reach. In the fifth and sixth innings, the Falcons tallied a combined 7 runs on seven hits and five walks. Masters was replaced during the seventh inning by Patrick Straub.

Masters’ final stat line was 5.2 innings pitched, 10 hits, 7 earned runs, two walks and eight strikeouts.

After seven innings, Ohio trailed 14-5. No runs were scored in the final two innings of the game despite Ohio tacking on some runs late in the sixth and seventh. 

Second Game

Ohio suffered its largest deficit of the season in game two with a 26-5 loss against Bowling Green. 

Despite the score, Ohio started the game hot. The team scored 3 runs in the first inning after four hits to start the game. Jackson Cauthron and Bryce Smith came through with big RBI hits in the inning. 

Bowling Green quickly tied the game in the bottom half of the first against Ohio starter Tim Knapshaefer. The Falcons continued their offensive onslaught, scoring 6 runs in the third inning on the back of a 3-run home run to make the score 9-4.

Bowling Green would continue to dominate, scoring 8 runs in the fourth inning to make the score 17-4. Knapschaefer would be pulled in the middle of the fourth after recording one out and was replaced by junior Hudson Boncal. Knapschaefer’s allowed 14 total runs in just over three innings of work. 

After a nightmare start to the game for the Bobcats, it only got worse. Ohio was able to score a handful of runs but it was to no help of a 20+ run deficit to end the game.

Third Game

After one of its worst losses in recent memory, Ohio bounced back in a big way Sunday, earning a comeback win to defeat a Bowling Green team that entered 17-0 in the MAC and 10-0 on its home field. 

Blake Gaskey started on the mound for Ohio, providing the team with the most efficient start of the weekend. He struck out all three batters in the first inning, keeping the game scoreless heading into the second. 

Bowling Green scored first after a home run to left field to take the lead 1-0 in the fourth inning. Both offenses would remain quiet until the sixth inning when Bowling Green would take advantage of a scoring opportunity by hitting a single into left field, scoring the runner on third, to make the score 2-0.

After the sixth inning, Gaskey would be taken out of the game in favor of junior Zach Weber. Gaskey pitched a phenomenal game against the best team in the MAC, with a final stat line of 6.0 innings pitched, 2 runs, 1 earned run, seven strikeouts, five hits and no walks.

Gaskey’s performance Sunday is his second quality of the year, with the first coming from his most recent appearance against Eastern Michigan last weekend. 

Ohio had a great chance to score its first run in the top of the eighth inning but would fall short, stranding two runners in scoring position.

Entering the ninth, Ohio stared down a 2-0 deficit with the threat of a sweep on its shoulders. 

Ohio got two of its first three batters of the ninth on base, each coming by way of a walk. With one out, Jackson Cauthron doubled down the left field line to score Finney and move Smith to third base. 

With two runners in scoring position, AJ Rausch singled to left field, barely hitting the ball passed the shortstop, scoring Smith and tying the game. Rausch later stole second, putting two runners in scoring position for the Bobcats. 

Making just his fourth start of the season, Caleb Karll stepped to the plate in the ninth and delivered the biggest hit of the series, scoring 2 and giving Ohio its first lead of the day. 

Weber would hold strong in the ninth, allowing two runners on base but neither being able to score. Weber was credited with the win, which signified Bowling Green’s first loss in the MAC all season.

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