Updated Thu, May 8, 2014 5:58 pm
An efficient first inning and a perfect game by Savannah Jo Dorsey saw No. 5 seed Ohio beat No. 1 seed Ball State 3-0 Thursday at Akron’s Firestone Stadium in the second round of the MAC Tournament.
Ball State dismantled the Bobcats on April 19 and 20 by a combined score of 17-0, knocking Ohio out of first place at the time. This time, Dorsey's outstanding effort helped turn the tables in a big way.
“We had to attack everything,” Dorsey said. “We know they’re good hitters. They have a very good offense, but we knew that our offense was good as well. And we went in there knowing that we could do it.”
Amanda Dalton led the lineup off with a single to left, which was immediately followed by Taylor Saxton smacking a single of her own into deep left center. After Casie Hutchinson struck one straight at the pitcher for the first out of the inning, Dalton advanced to third to set up a scoring opportunity for the ‘Cats with one out and runners on the corners.
Enter Amanda Basquez. The hard-hitting senior struck a high single to right that scored the Dalton and sent a roar through the stands from the Bobcat faithful. Hits from Adrienne Gebele and Dorsey scored the only other runs of the day.
The rest of the game belonged to Dorsey, who struck out 13 batters, tying a career-high, and held the best offense in the Mid-American Conference without a single baserunner.
Dorsey looked dominant in the circle, as her catcher, Madison Claytor, sat behind the plate calling the game for her and showing the chemistry the two underclassman have developed this season.
Confidence exuded from the two as they retired batter after batter, with the Cardinals (33-18) growing visibly frustrated with their inability to get a hit. They began swinging freely, which allowed Dorsey to lock in and throw the pitches her team needed.
“I think there is a big difference between settling in and locking in,” Dorsey said. “Locking in is a better word for it … having the confidence and being in the zone. I don’t like to settle in.
“If I’m on my toes, if I’m thinking and I can visualize every single pitch, that’s very key to locking in.”
Defensively, Ohio (30-24) was strong as well, with Alyssa Wolfe making some clutch catches near the end to keep Dorsey’s perfect game in check. The most impressive catch came when the junior centerfielder fell into the outfield net to save a sure homer on the last pitch of the game.
Wolfe, no stranger to fine catches at Firestone Stadium, tumbled over the centerfield fence to take away a home run in last season’s MAC Tournament, earning her a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10.
“Last year’s I guess I wasn't expecting it as much and it was kind of like I didn’t know the fence was there, I didn’t know it was coming,” Wolfe said. “This one, it was huge too. We were going for the perfect game. But this one I knew I was close to the fence and I could for sure catch it in the air. I knew I had it the whole time.”
The Bobcats move on to play either Central Michigan or Buffalo at 5 p.m. on Friday in the winner’s bracket final. Ohio is two wins away from capturing a MAC Tournament Championship, as a win will put the ‘Cats in Saturday’s tournament finale.