Ohio drops MAC Opener to Toledo, 8-5

Defensive miscues and woeful pitching have plagued the Ohio Bobcats for a majority of the 2013 season. Tonight, however, one bad inning was the difference.

Ohio (3-17, 0-1) fell to Toledo (8-11, 1-0) Friday night at Bob Wren Stadium by a final of 8-5, in the first MAC contest of the season for either team.

The hero of the night for the Rockets was the appropriately named centerfielder, Ben Hammer, who hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning off Ohio starting pitcher, Jake Miller.

“He made a little bit of a bad pitch,” Ohio head coach Rob Smith said, “it was supposed to be a changeup away and the ball ran in on the guy and he put a good swing on it.”

Miller finished his night with a line of 5.1 innings pitched, 11 hits, six earned runs, two bases on balls and a strikeout. Despite the somewhat ugly result in the box score, Smith was very pleased with Miller’s performance.

“[Pitching on a Friday night in a MAC game] is a lot to ask out of Jake Miller, he’s a freshman,” Smith said, “I thought he did a good job, I thought he competed, he kept us in the game, he just unfortunately was unable to get through that sixth inning.

Toledo opened the scoring in the second inning, and appeared to be in excellent shape after loading the bases with no outs. Miller was able to work out of the jam, allowing just two RBI groundouts off the bats of Nate Langhals and Deion Tansel.

The ‘Cats responded rather quickly, however, as J.R. Reynolds drove in Scott White after fouling off a number of pitches. Reynolds came around to score after Nate Squires reached on an error.

The fifth inning featured both teams plate a run, however, a two out error from Ohio third baseman, Ben Otto, proved to be pretty costly.

“The one thing that really hurt us was in the fifth inning when we had that error,” Smith said, “We could’ve gotten [Miller] out of the inning on about a seven or eight pitch inning. We have the two out error and suddenly he’s out there for another twelve or thirteen pitches, that really set him back to the point where he wasn’t as effective in the sixth.”

The four-run sixth inning took the wind out of Ohio’s sails and the bats weren’t able to do enough to mount a rally. Perhaps a bright spot for the ‘Cats in closing the game came in the form of the bullpen. Brad Przebieda, Logan Cozart and Brett Barber combined for 3.2 innings, allowing no earned runs, no hits, one walk and five strikeouts

Cozart in particular was impressive as he recorded three of his five outs via the strikeout.

“I thought Logan Cozart was very sharp, he’s a developing pitcher since he’s a third baseman by trade. We just converted him in November, so he’s still figuring a lot of stuff out, but he showed us tonight that there is a lot of potential.”

Ohio and Toledo will return to Bob Wren Stadium tomorrow for a doubleheader. Needless to say, the starting pitchers will need to eat up some innings.

“One of our starters has to get deep into the game,” Smith said, “Whether it’s Marck Paliotto or Connor Sitz, so that we can use our bullpen in one of [the games]. We’ll have to get creative, we’ve had to do that all year and we’ll do it again for eighteen innings tomorrow.”

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