A combined 11-for-16 from the first three hitters in Ohio’s lineup would suggest a Bobcat victory. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, eight pitchers taking the mound in one night suggests otherwise.
After taking an early 2-0 lead, the Ohio Bobcats (5-22) fell to the Xavier Musketeers (11-13) by the score of 15-10, Tuesday night, at Bob Wren Stadium.
Xavier’s Patrick Paligraf was the offensive star of the game, dominating the early action. Half of his six RBI’s came on a single in the second inning, while the other half came the next inning on a three-RBI double.
Ohio had a couple impressive offensive performances. Leadoff hitter Nick Squires went 5-for-6, scoring three runs and catcher Kyle Dean recorded a three-run home run in the fifth inning. Despite the excellent offensive performances, the Bobcats weren’t able to equal their efforts in the other two facets of the game – pitching and defense.
“When you score 10 run and get 18 hits, you should win the game.” Ohio head coach Rob Smith said. “They did a fantastic job offensively. Our guys play hard, they continue to play. They didn’t give in to the scoreboard, they could’ve quit that game midway through, but they didn’t, they continued to compete.”
Ohio started the night with Jake Miller on the mound. On a night that featured some rough outings, Miller recorded three groundouts to retire the Musketeers in order in the first, his only inning of work.
“He was only going to go one inning,” Smith said. “Typically, he’d throw a bullpen on Monday and Wednesday, but knowing that we were going to be shorthanded tonight we were going to at least try to get three outs out of 27.”
Marck Paliotto (1-6) replaced Miller in the second inning and had a hard time retiring the Musketeers and was given the loss on the night. Paliotto’s final line read 1.0 innings pitched, four hits, five earned runs and two walks.
Xavier’s starter, Vinny Nittoli (1-1), was sharp, efficient and attacked the strike zone early. His efforts were rewarded with his first win of the season. Nittoli’s final line read 4.0 innings pitched, six hits, zero earned runs, one walk and two strikeouts.
Although the box score might not show it, Brad Przebieda played a key part in the game, pitching for three innings to give the bullpen a bit of a break.
“Any time we get some outs out of Brad, it’s always a bonus,” Smith said. “I appreciate the efforts that he gave and if you throw it over the plate you’ll get some outs, and he did that for the most part…he was a good bridge for us.”
Ohio’s best inning offensively came in the fifth. Despite trailing 11-2, the ‘Cats were able to claw back into the game thanks to the aforementioned Dean home run.
“I barreled it up for sure, it felt really good coming off the bat.” Dean said.
Ultimately, Ohio’s pitching and defensive struggles through the first few innings provided to be too big for the team to overcome.
“Our deficiencies on the mound are holding us back and it’s unfortunate because the kids deserve to have a little bit more success than they’re having.” Smith said. “We just have to continue to go out and try to compete and give ourselves the best chance to win.”
The Bobcats will head to Kent State this weekend where they will play a three game series with the Golden Flashes (11-14, 4-2). Last season, Kent State made the College World Series. Without question, this weekend will be an excellent opportunity for Ohio.
“You’ve got to be excited.” Smith said. “They’re obviously a College World Series team. They are the best team in our league, they are the best program in the MAC. As we try to build our program [Kent state] is certainly something to aspire towards.”
First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at Schoonover Baseball Stadium.