April 13, 2007
YPSILANTI, Mich. - Sophomore Chris Rigo allowed just two runs in a complete game effort but was out-dueled by Eastern Michigan's Jeff Fischer, who tossed a complete game shutout in handing the Ohio baseball team a 2-0 loss Friday in Oestrike Stadium.
"That is as good a college game as you will see pitched," Head Coach Joe Carbone said. "Jeff Fischer is an outstanding college pitcher. He pitched a great game and we have to give him credit. He was ahead on all of our hitters and has a great changeup."
The Eagles scored the only two runs of the game in the third inning when they rapped three consecutive hits with two away for the two runs. Rigo (Westlake, Ohio) and Fischer were otherwise dominant in a game that lasted just one hour and 53 minutes. The Bobcats (12-18, 2-8) scored no runs on four hits with one error while Eastern Michigan (10-14, 7-1) scored twice on five hits with no errors. Ohio fell to 0-11 on the road this season with the loss.
Rigo turned in the best start by a Bobcat pitcher on the season as he tossed the eight-inning complete game and allowed just five hits and two runs. It was just the second career start for Rigo, who served as Ohio's closer last season. He struck out a career-high five hitters and issued just two walks but took the tough-luck loss to fall to 0-1.
"Chris Rigo pitched very well for us," Carbone said. "He had two outs in the third inning and they got a bloop single and two hits to score two runs. Other than that, I thought he threw very well."
The eight innings pitched Friday were also a career-most for Rigo and a season-long by an Ohio starter. The previous long by a Bobcat hurler this season was 6.1 innings on two occasions. Ohio had not had a starter go longer than six innings since game one of a doubleheader against Oakland on March 18.
As good as Rigo was, the 2006 Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year Fischer was a little better in limiting the Bobcats to four hits in nine innings to improve to 3-3 on the year. He struck out five Bobcats and allowed two walks in the win. Ohio had just one runner reach second base all day, that coming in the second inning.
"That is the reason he was the pitcher of the year in our conference," Carbone said. "We have to take our hats off to Jeff Fischer."
Fischer kept the Bobcat lineup silent most of the day with only four hits. Junior Matt Stiffler (Bellbrook, Ohio) was 2-for-4 while sophomore Brandon Besl (Cincinnati, Ohio) and freshman Marc Krauss (Deshler, Ohio) each went 1-for-4. Ohio's last five hitters on the lineup card combined to go 0-for-12 with two walks on the day.
"I thought some of our guys went up there and took some good swings," Carbone said. "I thought Besl had some good swings and hit some line drives right at people. With a guy like Fischer on the mound, you can't afford to hit balls right at guys"
Jeff Hehr and Derek Lehrman provided the only offense the Eagles needed with back-to-back RBI hits in the third inning. Each finished the day 1-for-3 as EMU collected just five hits in the game.
The Bobcats had runners on against Fischer in each of the first two innings but could not capitalize. Stiffler led off the game with a single but was later caught stealing. Besl singled to open the second and moved to second on a passed ball but was also stranded.
Rigo worked around a pair of walks and a hit batter in the first two innings and retired the first two hitters in the third before running into trouble. Steve Bradshaw singled with two away and scored all the way from first on an RBI double to center by Hehr. Lehrman followed with an RBI single to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
The Bobcats continued to put their leadoff runners aboard in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but could not make it pay off. Krauss led off the fourth with a single, freshman Jerod Yakubik (Byesville, Ohio) walked to start the fifth and Stiffler opened the sixth with a base hit, but Fischer was able to work out of it each inning to keep Ohio off the board.
Rigo was dominant after giving up the two runs in the third inning. He allowed just two hits over the next three innings, both coming with two away in the sixth, and retired seven in a row before the back-to-back singles. Rigo escaped the two-on, two-out jam with a punch-out to keep the Ohio deficit at 2-0 after six innings.
Ohio put its final runner on base in the eighth inning when sophomore Chris Klimko (McKeesport, Pa.) drew a one-out walk, but the next two Bobcats went down in order to leave him stranded. Rigo kept the deficit at two runs with a perfect eighth inning but Fischer got Ohio in order in the ninth as the Bobcats fell by the final of 2-0.
The two teams will go at it again Saturday in game two of the MAC series. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. in Oestrike Stadium. The Bobcats will send right-hander Kevin Mementowski (Parma, Ohio) against Eagle right-hander George Biddle. The game can be heard on WATH 970 AM or online at ohiobobcats.com.
"Kevin (Mementowski) is battling back from the flu so hopefully he's ready to go and we can get the kind of effort from him that we got from Rigo today," Carbone said.