Updated Sun, Mar 10, 2013 5:47 pm
It’s been the story all year for the Ohio baseball team (3-10). They have great pitching and subpar hitting, or vice versa, and the young squad can never put the two and two together.
This was the case in Sunday’s matchup against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-8), as the pitchers kept the opposing hitters in check, but the Bobcats only connected for six hits the entire game, leading to a 6-2 loss in the Bob Wren Stadium.
Ohio pitcher Connor Sitz (0-2) held the Golden Grizzlies scoreless in the first four innings of his third career start, but got into trouble in the top of the fifth, when Kyle Bobolts reached base on an error by shortstop Dan Schmidt. Chris Van Dyke advanced Bobolts to third on a single through the left side of the infield, which put runners on the corners with zero outs.
Sitz escaped the inning with little harm, though, allowing just one unearned run on a Spencer Marentette sacrifice fly to right field. He struck out leadoff hitter Trent Drumheller and forced Todd Dunham to fly out to end the fifth inning with the 2-1 lead.
The sixth inning was a different story for the Bobcats, though.
The batters began to catch up to Sitz’s pitches and made him pay for it. Nolan Jacoby, who batted 4-for-5 on the day, started the hit parade with one of his three doubles down the first base line and immediately put pressure on Sitz by putting a runner in scoring position with one out.
For the moment, the freshman was in control, striking out Robby Enslen to ease the initial pressure. That changed quickly, though. Oakland put together a two-out rally, beginning with a Jared Theisen single on a 1-2 count through the right side of the infield to score Jacoby.
Bobolts continued the two-out, two-strike rally with a single that scored Theisen from second. Having lost the lead, Ohio coach Rob Smith called in pitcher Sean Kennedy to finish the inning off, and the lefty struck out Van Dyke to stop the bleeding.
However, the damage had already been done.
The Bobcats went hitless for five innings, and during that time frame, Oakland had taken the 3-2 lead and weren’t done.
“Their team did a really good job of two out hits. I believe five of their six runs were with two outs, so we weren’t able to close innings like we’d like,” Smith said. “I thought he (Sitz) did a good job throwing strikes. They had to earn what they’d get today, and we just weren’t able to match that up offensively.”
The Bobcats jumped out to the initial lead, when Oakland pitcher Tom Koons’ pitch zipped past Jacoby’s mitt and went to the backstop by the Ohio’s dugout. Nick Squires scored easily from third, but it was the hustle play by Cody Gaertner that gave Ohio the early momentum.
Gaertner, who was on second base, rounded third with zero hesitation and made it to home plate before Jacoby could fire the ball back to Koons. The wild pitch really hurt the Golden Grizzlies at first, as their offense struggled to get going.
However, the rest of the way out was nearly flawless for Koons. The righty pitched 8.0 innings of four-hit baseball and allowed just two earned runs in the first inning. He also struck out seven of the 29 batters faced.
The Bobcats’ five-inning hitless spurt killed the momentum they gained in the first inning. They were never able to regain the blown lead, and the relief pitchers were working from behind on the mound.
Sitz finished the day with 5.2 innings pitched and allowed two earned runs on five hits. The relief pitchers pitched a combined 3.1 innings and allowed three earned runs.
The offensive inconsistency is what ultimately defeated the Bobcats, who batted 6-for-31 (.194) as a team.
“It’s been like that so far all year. We’ll do what we did (Saturday) night in the seventh inning and then we’ll come out and do what we did today, where we were so inconsistent offensively that our approach just goes in and out a bit,” Smith said. “We’ve got to continue to work to get better at that and get consistency with our offense. Otherwise, we’re going to see more days like this than we’d like.”
The Bobcats will travel to Kentucky on Tuesday to face the Wildcats in Lexington, Ky. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.