March 3, 2007
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio - Sophomore Brandon Besl went 3-for-4 with a key, two-run double and left-handed junior Matt Smith earned his first win in an Ohio uniform as the Bobcats defeated Otterbein 5-3 Saturday at V.A. Memorial Stadium.
Otterbein entered the contest ranked first in the nation in the NCAA Division III, according to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.
"Every day we play we have gotten a little bit better," Head Coach Joe Carbone said. "It looked like this was the most comfortable we acted playing since we started the season."
With the victory, Carbone moved into sole possession of second place on the Mid-American Conference all-time wins list with his 535th career victory. He passed former Toledo Head Coach Stan Sanders with the win. Sanders coached Carbone on the Ohio University freshman team and was head coach at Toledo while Carbone served as an assistant on his staff.
"I am very proud of Joe," Sanders said. "That is great news to me. Everything Joe does I am just thrilled about. I wouldn't have had half the wins I had at Toledo without Joe assisting me at that time. He is a tremendous recruiter and he has kept the tradition that Coach Wren had at Ohio University."
The Bobcats (2-5) earned their second consecutive win and finished with five runs on nine hits and two errors. Ohio scored all five of its runs in the sixth and seventh innings while the Cardinals scored only in the seventh and eighth innings. Otterbein (0-1) posted three runs on four hits with four errors in its first game of the season.
Besl (Cincinnati, Ohio) paced the Bobcat offense with a 3-for-4 performance, two RBI and a run scored. He also tallied a stolen base and clubbed a two-run double that stood as the eventual difference-maker in the seventh inning.
"(Besl) came up big for us," Carbone said. "He got some base hits when we really needed him and that is why we have him in the lineup. He is a good hitter."
Freshman Jeremie Rehak (Pittsburgh, Pa.) finished 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored while senior Bryant Witt (Powell, Ohio) also recorded a multi-hit game. He went 2-for-5 with a run scored.
"Bryant has been playing solid baseball," Carbone said. "He has been doing that all year."
Freshman Kris McDonough (Upper St. Clair, Pa.) went 1-for-4 and picked up his first career hit, RBI and run scored in the win.
Smith (Centre Hall, Pa.) picked up his first win of the season as he tossed six innings and allowed only two unearned runs on four hits. He finished with a career-high six strikeouts while walking four hitters. Smith is in his first season with the Bobcats after transferring from Allegany Community College in Maryland.
"I thought (Smith) did a great job," Carbone said. "He gave up two unearned runs. He was throwing strikes and he was competing and I thought he pitched very well. He gave us a chance to win today."
Sophomore Chris Rigo (Westlake, Ohio) pitched the final three innings in relief and allowed just an unearned run for his first save of the season. He issued two walks with two strikeouts and did not allow a hit. The save was his seventh career save, tying him for sixth on the all-time Ohio saves list with 2006 senior Yale Silverman.
Smith breezed through the first two innings and the Bobcats threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the second frame. Witt smacked a single to open the frame. After a fielder's choice, a hit batsmen and a single by Besl, the bases were loaded with just one away. The rally ended quickly, however, as a double play finished the threat to keep the game in a scoreless tie.
Smith continued to work efficiently through six innings as he allowed just two hits and struck out six Cardinals. Otterbein was able to match the Bobcats through the first five innings, but opened the door for Ohio to finally break through in the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back errors to start the inning. The Bobcats still had runners on first and second with two away, but McDonough and Rehak smacked back-to-back, RBI doubles to give the Bobcats the lead. After senior Dusty Hammond (Bellefontaine, Ohio) was plunked by a pitch to load the bases, junior Matt Stiffler (Bellbrook, Ohio) drew a bases loaded walk to put Ohio on top 3-0 after six innings.
The Cardinals answered in the top of the seventh with a pair of unearned runs. A leadoff error came around to score on a sacrifice fly and Otterbein tallied its second run on a bases loaded walk to cut Ohio's lead to 3-2.
The Bobcats bounced right back in the seventh with a pair of runs to regain a three-run lead. Witt and senior Willie Walker (Marysville, Ohio) rapped back-to-back singles to start the frame and moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Hayden Johnston (Strattanville, Pa.). Besl followed with the big blow, a two-run double over the centerfielder's head, to plate both runners and give Ohio the 5-2 advantage.
The Cardinals plated a run in the eighth to make the score 5-3, but a fine defensive play by Stiffler limited the damage. With a runner on third and one out, Brian Hiscox hit a deep fly to right-center. Stiffler made a leaping catch at the wall to retire Hiscox and allow only the runner from third to score.
Rigo did the rest from there as he worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to record the save and preserve the 5-3 Bobcat win.
Ohio looks for its third consecutive win Sunday when the Bobcats host NAIA member Rio Grande. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. at V.A. Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe.