A ball dropped just out of Tyler Wells‘ reach in the eighth inning, allowing two runs to score for the Northern Illinois Huskies (15-21, 10-4 MAC). That play proved to be the turning point in the Huskies’ 11-2 win over the Ohio Bobcats (9-27, 5-9 MAC) Saturday afternoon at Bob Wren Stadium.
“It certainly took a lot of momentum out of our dugout at that point,” head coach Rob Smith said of the play.
After the Bobcats held a lead for part of the game, the Huskies tied the game in the sixth inning. In the eighth inning with two outs, relief pitcher Logan Cozart ran into trouble.
A pair of singles put two men on base for Connor Duckhorn, who lifted a ball to left center field that was just beyond reach of the diving Wells. The ball hit off his glove and fell to the ground. Both runners scored on the play to give Northern Illinois the 4-2 lead.
That was all Northern Illinois would need, but they routed the Bobcats in the top of the ninth, adding seven additional runs.
Up against a strong pitcher in Eli Anderson, Ohio was unable to muster much run support for its pitching staff. Though, Smith knew that would be the case heading into the game.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in our league and he did what he did,” Smith said. “We knew going into it, we were going to win that game 3-2, 4-3 that was how we were going to have to do it. We executed it the way we thought it would happen. We bunted and got some key base hits and scored a few runs that way. If you’re gonna beat a guy like that, you’ve got to make plays and we can’t give them runs.”
Ohio was only able to muster two runs, neither of which were earned for Anderson, who went eight innings, only allowing four hits and two walks.
Kyle Dean dropped a ball into shallow right field for the Bobcats’ first hit of the game in the bottom of the third. Nate Squires advanced him to second on a bunt. Ben Otto ripped a ball to left field for a single, sending Dean to third base. After Nick Squires walked to keep the inning alive, a ball hit by Cody Gaertner bounced over Huskies first baseman Jeff Zimmerman for a hit. Dean scored on the play to bring home a run, which tied the game at one.
The Bobcats’ other run came in the fourth inning.
Ohio took their only lead of the game on a sacrifice fly hit by Scott White, scoring Dan Schmidt, who ripped a long single into right field to open up the inning. He advanced to second on a Wells sacrifice fly and got to third on a passed ball.
That was all the Bobcats could muster at the plate.
Ohio’s pitching was strong for much of the game, but it wasn’t enough and the last two innings proved to be costly.
Starter Marck Paliotto went 5.1 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks. He was able to work out of jams through much of the game. Cozart came on in relief of Paliotto and took the loss after allowing four runs on five hits and one walk. Ryan Ferrell struggled in the ninth inning, allowing five runs on three hits and two walks, recording only one out. Brad Przebieda got the final two outs for the Bobcats without allowing a run.
“Marck Paliotto competed well. He worked out of trouble several times and there were a lot of positives to be made, but unfortunately in these kind of games, every play matters and every chance to get an out you have to take care of and there were a lot of bright spots just unfortunately, they way it ended, kind of disappointing,” Smith said.