March 2, 2006
ATHENS, Ohio -
The Ohio baseball team had its 2006 home opener spoiled by inclement weather and a ninth-inning surge by visiting West Virginia State as the Yellow Jackets escaped with a 13-12 victory Thursday evening in Bob Wren Stadium.
After falling behind early on, the Bobcats (1-3) came through with a seven-run fifth inning to build a four-run lead. That advantage was short lived however, as WVSU (2-0) plated six in the top of the sixth. Ohio fought back to draw even at 11-11, but the Yellow Jackets scored twice in their last at-bat and the Bobcats were only able to muster one in theirs as they fell in defeat.
The visiting Yellow Jackets - ranked fourth in the current Division II national poll - wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the top of the first. After Bobcat starter Yale Silverman retired the first two batters, Brandon Halstead singled to right center. Ohio first baseman Jon Vondrell then couldn't handle Joshua Miller's sharp grounder to first base and Bobcat second baseman Dusty Hammond fumbled the ball allowing Halstead to advance to third. WVSU's Kyle Jones then took Silverman over the right field fence for a 3-0 Yellow Jacket advantage.
The Jackets tacked on another run in the top of the second to go ahead 4-0.
The Bobcats were able to break through on the strength of redshirt freshman Kirk Payne's bat. After Matt Stiffler walked to lead off the bottom of third, Payne sent a line drive over the right field wall on a 3-2 pitch to cut the WVSU lead in half.
After Silverman held WVSU scoreless in the third and fourth frames the Yellow Jackets tacked on another run in the top of the fifth to go ahead by three, 5-2.
The bottom of the fifth was Ohio's big inning, however. The Bobcats sent 11 runners to the plate, and seven across it, to storm ahead 9-5. Bryant Witt got things started with a single and scored two batters later on Payne's third RBI of the night for Ohio's third run. Anthony Gressick then drove home Stiffler with a single and scored on a Willie Walker groundout to even things at 5-5. Jason Selhorst and Hayden Johnston added RBI singles and Witt capped off the scoring with a double down the right field line that gave Ohio a four-run advantage.
The momentum Ohio generated in the fifth didn't carry over to the top half of the sixth however, as WVSU generated six runs on a host of Bobcat pitchers to take back the lead 11-9. A walk and a single chased Silverman and the Bobcats turned to their first reliever of the night, Zeke Isaacs. The junior right-hander gave up two singles and a walk as two runs came home. Zach Elmer then came on to pitch for Ohio and surrendered two-straight bases loaded walks to tie the game. Another single by WVSU plated two more runs to make it 11-9. Ohio Head Coach Joe Carbone then went to his fourth pitcher of the frame in Andrew Shisila, who gave up a single, but got out of the inning without any further damage when Hammond turned and unassisted double play for the Bobcats.
Ohio was able to get back a run in its half of the seventh. With two outs Hayden Johnston doubled to left field and Witt followed with a single to bring home Johnston and make it 11-10.
The Bobcats were able to make some more noise in the bottom of the eighth. Gressick singled and Vondrell reached to get things started and both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Walker. After a flyout, Dusty Hammond walked to load the bases and Johnston drew the second-consecutive pass to force home Gressick for the tying run and make it 11-11.
The Yellow Jackets were able to take back the lead in their last at-bat however. After Shisila held WVSU scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings, the Jackets loaded the bases with no outs on the sophomore and Witt bobbled a grounder to allow the runner from third to cross. Cody Neyman then came on to pitch for Ohio and held WVSU to just one more run on a sacrifice fly by Josh Bower - which proved to be the game-winner.
The Bobcats mounted one more rally in their last at-bat. Stiffler led off with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball. After a groundout, Gressick struck out but reached first when the catcher couldn't make the play and Stiffler moved to third. Vondrell then hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Ohio's 12th run, but they would get no more as Walker ground out to end the game.
The loss for Ohio was its first against a non-Division I program since falling to Division III Otterbein in 2002. WVSU has achieved a high level of success at the Division II level and is coming off a 2005 campaign in which it advanced to the DII World Series.
Shisila (0-1) took the loss for Ohio. Silverman finished with 5 1-3 innings and allowed seven runs - three earned - on seven hits.
Witt led Ohio's offensive effort with three hits and three RBIs in five at-bats. Payne's homer and three RBIs were all career-firsts.
Daniel Palmer (1-0) earned the victory in relief for WVSU. He was one of 10 pitchers utilized in the game by the Yellow Jackets.
Halstead led the Jackets at the plate with a 3-for-6 performance while Kyle Jones registered five RBIs.
Ohio committed five errors in the game - its highest total in four games this season.
The last few innings of the game was played with temperatures hovering in the upper 30's with periods of light rain.
The Bobcats are slated to get back in action tomorrow afternoon against Ohio Wesleyan. Derek Witt (0-1) will take the hill for Ohio with first pitch in Bob Wren Stadium slated for 4 p.m.