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Baseball: Late-inning heroics not enough to prolong season
AVON, Ohio — Ohio entered Thursday's game against eighth-seeded Buffalo needing three straight wins in the Mid-American Conference Tournament to keep its season alive.
But since the Bobcats dropped their second tournament game by a score of 6-5 in 10 innings, the only weight they carried was that of what could have been.
Back-to-back singles from freshman catcher Cody Gaertner and junior designated hitter Doug Holmes began Ohio's offensive output in the second inning.
After freshman second baseman Ian Mezlak grounded into a double play, freshman third baseman Logan Cozart singled off Buffalo starter Jeff Thompson, scoring Holmes to give Ohio an early 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats had another opportunity to strike in the fourth, when Mezlak popped what seemed like a routine fly ball to shallow center field.
But when Buffalo second baseman Jon Mestas called off both his right and center fielders, the ball drooped in over his shoulder.
Although Mezlak landed safely on second, he tried to take third on the play, but was called out.
Ohio senior starting pitcher Jason Moulton kept Buffalo at bay for 3-1/3 innings, but the Bulls took a 3-1 lead on back-to-back home runs by catcher Tom Murphy and Alex Baldock in the bottom of the fourth.
A sacrifice fly from freshman first baseman Jake Madsen, scored junior shortstop Ben Otto to cut their opponents' lead to one in the fifth inning.
The Bobcats later regained the lead on a two-run Cozart homer in the top of the sixth.
Junior relief pitcher Brett Barber replaced Moulton in the bottom of the seventh, after two runners reached base. Barber unfurled a wild pitch in his first at-bat, which moved both runners into scoring position.
A sacrifice fly by Buffalo second baseman Jon Mestas and a Matt Pollack single made the lead 5-4 in the Bulls' favor.
Ohio attempted to answer back in the next inning, where Holmes and senior right fielder Jensen Painter reached base. Mezlak swung and missed on three straight pitches and Cozart grounded out to the shortstop to end the threat, however.
Freshman left fielder Tyler Wells showed his propensity to have crucial at-bats in the top of the ninth, where his game-tying home run forced extra innings.
Junior starting pitcher Seth Streich replaced Barber in the tenth inning and promptly hit the first batter he faced.
Five batters later, junior first baseman Alex Baldock launched a ball to right-center field to bring in the runner, ending Joe Carbone's final season as Ohio's head coach.