Updated Tue, Mar 18, 2014 8:21 pm
Before the season began, Ohio coach Rob Smith said that he was optimistic that the increased pitching depth would lead to better results from pitching staff in the 2013-14 season.
However, through the first 17 games, the optimism from preseason has turned to disappointment and concern, as the staff, mainly the bullpen, has struggled to find any form of consistency. Their struggle was highlighted by the 44 runs the staff allowed to St. Bonaventure over the weekend, as the ‘Cats were swept by the Bonnies and outscored 44-13 in the three games.
On Tuesday, Smith hoped his team and the pitching could get back on track and close the wounds left by the Bonnies over the weekend, as the Bobcats traveled to Xavier for their last nonconference game of the season. Instead, the Musketeers only deepened the Bobcats’ wounds, defeating Ohio by a score of 14-0.
The Bobcats’ (4-13) offense could only muster up three hits in the game, as Xavier pitcher Eric Steine kept the Ohio offense from finding a rhythm through six innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. Ohio didn’t pick up their first hit of the game until shortstop Ty Black singled into right-centerfield off of Steine in the top of the sixth inning.
The ‘Cats also were without their most consistent offensive player in centerfielder Mitch Longo, who is carrying a .410 batting average through 16 games this season. Longo suffered a wrist injury during the weekend series with St. Bonaventure.
But the story was the performance by the pitching staff, as a total of seven pitchers allowed the 14 runs to the Musketeers (11-6). Freshman Gerry Salisbury made the start on the mound for Ohio, but lasted just one-plus innings and allowed four runs, while getting credited with the loss, his third of the season.
With the bulk of the non-conference portion of the Bobcats’ season now over, Ohio hopes to rebound by Friday evening, as the Central Michigan Chippewas come to Athens to begin MAC play with a three-game series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.