Late inning meltdown gives Chippewas series win

Tyler Wells stood on first base as the 0-1 pitch was thrown to John Adryan. He turned on it and smacked it to the wall, earning a double and bringing Wells home. Scott White bunted for a base hit to move Adryan to third, and another bunt brought him in as well. It was a tie game in the bottom of the 7th inning with just one out, and the rest should’ve been history.

Instead, the Bobcats couldn’t seem to get White in and Pat Kaminska continued to find ways to shut down the offense. Then came the bullpen, following a strong start by Jake Rudnicki and relief inning by Nick Nauracy, four pitchers entered for two innings and gave up eight runs. The Bobcats (4-15) dropped the second game of the series with Central Michigan (12-10) 10-2 in a heartbreaking fashion.

“It was nice to see us bounce back again,” coach Rob Smith said. “We showed some resiliency. But, once again, when we put ourselves in a position and then we slid right down. We don’t have enough poise to handle those situations late in the game. We have to find some guys who have the ability to pitch in the last nine outs, last six outs of a ballgame. Right now, we don’t have that enough. We don’t see enough of that from enough guys, and it’s creating situations that are more difficult to overcome.”

Rudnicki struggled in the first inning, throwing 22 pitches to five batters and allowing a run, eerily similar to Jake Roehn the night before giving up a run against five batters on 23 pitches. Rudnicki was able to get back on top the rest of the way, falling behind a few times, but using 101 pitches to hold the Chippewas to just one more run, which was unearned.

“I thought he did a good job grinding,” Smith said. “He competed his way through six innings, he gave us a chance to win, which is what you want a starting pitcher to do.”

The Bobcats offense was almost completely shut down by Pat Kaminska for the Chippewas, who went for eight innings with only six hits and two runs against. He also struck out four.

John Adryan and Scott White were the only betters for the Bobcats to have two hits in the game, continuing hot streaks from the night before. Adryan and Connor Callery were able to each earn an RBI as well.

Adryan’s biggest plays, though, may not have been with his hot bat. In the field, he made multiple plays at third base grabbing foul ball outs, catching line drives or turning double-plays to hold down the Chippewas offense.

“John played well,” Smith said. “He’s getting better at third base, and he’s continued to improve. So hopefully he’s a player that will continue to develop and get us somebody that can help us in the process of building this program.”

Everything went downhill when the Bobcats were forced to turn to their bullpen. After Rudnicki threw 101 pitches through his six innings allowing just six hits, walking four, and striking out two, the Bobcats turned to Nick Nauracy, who threw 29 pitches in his one inning of work. In the eighth, they turned things over to Jeremy Cronk.

Friday night, Cronk pitched 1 2-3 innings and sufficiently stagnated the Chippewas offense, but on Saturday he would only earn one out before giving up three hits and five earned runs. Spencer Sapp came in for one batter in relief, throwing two pitches and giving up a sac-fly but managing an out. Logan Cozart finished the inning giving up two hits, walking one, and giving up an earned run before striking out his last batter faced.

“Lack of poise,” Smith said about the meltdown. “No more complicated than that, lack of poise. When you pitch late in games, when it’s 2-2, you have to have poise. It means you don’t hit the leadoff batter, it means you don’t balk with the bases loaded. Have to have more poise than that.”

Gerry Salisbury took the reigns in the ninth, and seemed strong striking out the first batter faced, but would give up two hits, walk one, and give two unearned runs before finally getting another strikeout and ending the inning.

“We just have to continue to work with them, and try to find ways to make them better, and hope that these experiences we have will allow them to not make the same mistakes,” Smith said.

The Bobcats will finish their weekend series with the Chippewas on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Bob Wren Stadium having already lost two straight to them.

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