Despite holding a steady lead through the middle innings, the Ohio Bobcats (4-10) lost to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies 6-4 on Friday evening.
The game started with consistent scoring as the Bonnies recorded an earned run in each of the first three innings while the Bobcats pulled away with a three-run second inning. After that, however, the Bobcats would never make it to home plate again.
“I’d like to see us play better late in the game,” coach Rob Smith said. “I thought we broke down, starting in the 7th inning on what I thought was a routine play in a tie ballgame. We broke down defensively and then as we moved into the ninth inning, several free bases. A walk, a hit by pitch, a double steal, there’s a cross up on a sign between a pitcher and catcher. All those things, that’s part of having a young, inexperienced team unfortunately. It kept us from being in at least a one-run game, which I think would’ve been a different scenario in the bottom of the ninth. But we just have to be better late, it just shows a lack of poise sometimes that just has to be better.”
One of the changes from that point forward was a shift in pitching from the Bonnies. After throwing a couple wild pitches, starter Steven Klimek was met on the mound by a trainer and pulled from the game. Through his two innings he allowed three hits and four runs to raise his season ERA to 5.40.
He was replaced by Connor Grey, who would go on to face 23 batters and dominate the Bobcats in six innings pitched, allowing only two hits and three walks while striking out two. Grey received the winning decision and was pulled in the ninth for Thad Johnson to get the save.
“Obviously the second guy did a better job in terms of throwing a cleaner baseball,” Smith said. “The first starter had a few issues with walks and wild pitches and hit by pitches. That created some opportunities for us in the second inning, but the next guy came in and did a nice job throwing strikes. He forced us to swing bats and obviously we didn’t do a very good job of that in terms of making solid contact.”
The Bobcats had a similar problem as their starter, Jake Roehn, had possibly his worst outing of the young season. The freshman fireballer faced 28 batters and left with 5 2/3 innings pitched allowing nine hits, four runs, two walks and three strikeouts. His season ERA was raised slightly to 3.90.
“He grinded,” Smith said. “He’s been much, much sharper the previous couple of starts against some quality teams. He really had to grind through it tonight. He wasn’t super sharp. I didn’t think the ball was coming out of his hand nearly as good as it had previously. You know, he didn’t pitch a real clean baseball. Just walks and hit by pitches. But he grinded. A starter’s job is to keep you in the game, and even on a day where he probably wasn’t sharp, we still had a chance to win that game and that’s all you can ask out of your starting pitcher.”
He was replaced by Nick Nauracy, who managed to get out of the sixth and hold his own for two innings while accruing a game-high four strikeouts. He had one run scored against him which was unearned, keeping his season ERA at a steady 0.00 while still giving him the losing decision. Spencer Sapp, the sidearm lefty, and Jeremy Cronk entered in the ninth with Sapp giving up a run as well.
The winning run came off of Nauracy in the seventh when a hit toward the middle was grabbed by Tyler Finkler at second. On his back leg, he turned and threw for first base making Madsen stretch out off the bag and miss the out while allowing the runner to score.
The Bonnies batted well above their season average on Friday, going 11-for-38 while the Bobcats hit 7-for-29 despite only four strikeouts. Jake Madsen led the Bobcats in hits, going 2-for-5 with an RBI and taking his season batting average to 2.73 while also continuing his starting streak to 119-games.
“We had too many fly-ball outs,” said Smith. “Fourteen fly-ball outs. And on a night like this, you have to challenge the defense. We saw that they had some struggles defensively where we made them handle the ball, some bunt situations, a couple ground balls where they pulled the first baseman off. But when you hit lazy routine fly balls and you hit fourteen of them. I think all of us here could catch all of those. It wouldn’t take a lot of skill to do that. We just didn’t challenge their defense enough, we didn’t make very good contact. It made it real easy for the defense to make plays.”
Ohio meets with St. Bonaventure three more times this weekend, including a double-header on Saturday afternoon. The first game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and the second at 4 p.m. at Bob Wren Stadium.