With a spot in the MAC Tournament yet to be clinched, the Bowling Green Falcons came dangerously close to dropping a home series to the Ohio Bobcats, the MAC Eastern Division cellar-dwellers. However. clutch hitting in their final two at-bats of the weekend allowed the Falcons to move within an eyelash of an opportunity to defend their 2013 MAC championship.
BGSU jumped out to a big early lead on Friday to open the series and cruised to an 11-4 victory. The Falcons rattled the Bobcats' starter Jake Roehn and got a winning effort from Mike Frank. When Frank faltered in the seventh, Jason Link calmed the waters with 2 2/3 hitless innings.
After Frank pitched a perfect inning to open the game, the Falcons used four straight hits to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Jake Thomas doubled with one out and was driven home when Jeremy Shay also doubled. T.J. Losby lashed a single up the middle to score Shay.
The BGSU offense found more one-out magic in the second after another 1-2-3 inning by Frank. Jesse Rait coaxed a walk, and Brian Bien followed that with a double. Thomas pounded his second extra base hit in as many innings with a triple down the right-field line, and that scored both runners for a 4-0 lead. Losby earned his second RBI of the game two batters later with a sacrifice fly that scored Thomas. BGSU could've scored more, but a ground out to second left the bases loaded.
Taylor Emody finally got Ohio on the board with a leadoff home run in the third, but Frank allowed nothing more. BGSU got that run back plus two more in the bottom half. For the third straight inning, the action all happened with one out. Rait and Bien singled and doubled, respectively, and Thomas drove both home with a double -- his third extra-base hit of the game. Shay singled to drive home Thomas for the second time, and BGSU chased Roehn from the game with an 8-1 lead.
Over the next three innings, Frank faced the minimum. He allowed two hits, but both runners were erased via double plays. In the bottom of the sixth, the Falcons opened the lead even further. Brandon Howard scored on a wild pitch, while Bien and Logan Walker each delivered RBI hits for an 11-1 lead.
Ohio scored three in the seventh, as Ty Black chased Frank from the game with a one-out, two-RBI double. However, Link retired the final two batters of that inning and allowed no baserunners at all until a hit batter with two out in the ninth.
Bien, Thomas and Shay each earned three hits. Bien scored twice and drove in one, while Thomas scored three runs and had four RBI. Shay provided two RBI and scored a first-inning run. Losby had just one hit but drove in two runs. Black and Emody each had one run-scoring hit in the game.
Frank allowed four runs, all earned, in 6 1/3 innings for his fourth win of the season. Roehn dropped to 4-7 after allowing eight runs (also all earned) and 11 hits in just 2 1/3 innings.
|Bowling Green Falcons||2||3||3||0||0||3||0||0||X||11||16||0|
|WP: Mike Frank (4-5)|
|LP: Jake Roehn (4-7)|
Ohio scored four first-inning runs, blew that lead in the middle innings, then scored a late run against BGSU's bullpen to claim a 7-6 upset over the Falcons on Saturday.
The Bobcats scored their runs in the first without the benefit of a hit. BGSU starter Brett Fitzwater walked the first two batters of the game, and Tyler Wells loaded the bases when Brandon Howard couldn't handle his sacrifice bunt. John Adryan then cracked a sacrifice fly that scored Garrett Black and moved runners to second and third. Ty Black and Taylor Emody followed by working back-to-back walks. Jake Madsen scored on the Emody walk for a 2-0 lead, and Fitzwater was removed from the game.
Devin Daugherty relieved Fitzwater, but the walks kept coming. He walked his first batter, Austin Rieman, to score Wells, then hit Anthony Winters with a pitch to score Black. Five walks, an error and a hit batter had led to four runs. In fact, Ohio wouldn't get their first hit until there were two outs in the fourth inning.
BGSU answered beginning in the second inning. Jesse Rait poked a two-out single to right field, which scored Patrick Lancaster and Andrew Kubuski. Then, in the third, Jake Thomas led off with a double. He advanced to third on a fly out to center by Jeremy Shay. Ohio conceded his run when T.J. Losby grounded to Black at shortstop.
With their lead whittled down to 4-3, Ohio answered back with a run in the fourth. Tyler Finkler earned Ohio's first hit of the game, a single with two outs, and Black followed with another single. Madsen lashed a third straight hit, a double, to score Finkler for a 5-3 lead.
The teams traded runs, with BGSU scoring in the fifth and Ohio in the sixth, and that pushed the score to 6-4 in favor of Ohio.
The Falcons finally pushed home the equalizers in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Spencer Sapp relieved Ohio starter Jake Rudnicki. He faced only one batter and hit Lancaster with a pitch. Jake Miller came in to face Logan Walker and promptly fell behind to a 2-1 count. Walker jacked Miller's fourth pitch over the wall, and the homer tied the game at 6. BGSU then got runners to second and third, but Thomas struck out and Shay grounded out to end the threat.
In the seventh, Ohio's Wells doubled with one out and advanced to third on a wild pitch by BGSU relief pitcher Ben Singer. Adryan knocked a single to left that easily scored Wells and reclaimed a 7-6 lead for Ohio.
Miller allowed just a single in the seventh to help the Bobcats maintain their lead. Logan Cozart threw a perfect eighth, and Corey Wells set down BGSU in order in the ninth for his fifth save of the season.
Ohio managed their seven runs on only seven hits, but the top four of the order did the most damage. They combined for five hits, four runs and four RBI. Black was the only Bobcat with multiple hits (2), and he scored and drove in one run apiece. Wells scored twice and Adryan had two RBI.
Losby, Walker and Rait each had two RBI for the Falcons, while Thomas and Lancaster each picked up two hits and scored twice.
Neither starter factored into the decision. Miller's win for Ohio was his first of the season after six defeats, and Ben Singer allowed runs in the sixth and seventh to take a loss (3-2) for BGSU.
|Bowling Green Falcons||0||2||1||0||1||2||0||0||0||6||8||1|
|WP: Jake Miller (1-6)|
|LP: Ben Singer (3-2)|
|SV: Corey Wells (5)|
In a game they badly needed to maintain position in the race for a MAC tournament berth, Bowling Green blew a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning only to walk-off with a dramatic 7-6 win thanks to a Jeremy Shay RBI double. The victory means that BGSU can do no worse than tie for the final spot in the MAC's eight-team postseason field.
Starting pitchers Andrew Lacinak (BGSU) and Connor Sitz (Ohio) each gave up first inning runs then shut down their opponents through the middle of the game.
With two outs in the top of the first, Lacinak made the mistake of walking Jake Madsen. Tyler Wells made him pay by bashing an RBI double to left-center for a 1-0 lead. However, the Falcons immediately answered. Brian Bien singled to lead off the bottom half, and Sitz could not field a sacrifice bunt attempt by Jake Thomas. Bien went to third on the Sitz error and scored when Jeremy Shay grounded to third on a 3-2 pitch.
The game continued in a 1-1 tie until the bottom of the sixth, when more defensive miscues produced three more BGSU runs. Shay and T.J. Losby led off the inning with back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. Andrew Kubuski cranked a sacrifice fly to score Shay, but Sitz induced a grounder from Brandon Howard for the second out.
It appeared that the inning would end when Patrick Lancaster grounded to Garrett Black, but Black's throw to first was errant. The wild toss allowed Losby to score BGSU's third run and put Lancaster on second. Three pitches later, Logan Walker brought home Lancaster with the Falcons' fourth run on a single to left.
Lacinak made that lead stand up through seven, but his cruise through the Ohio lineup ended in the eighth. Madsen singled to begin the frame. Wells followed with a grounder to Howard at third. Howard tried to force Madsen at second, but his throw was off the mark and both runners were safe. Lacinak reached a full count on the next batter, John Adryan, but the error came home to roost when Adryan crushed a game-tying three-run homer.
Jason Link relieved Lacinak after the home run, but he allowed Ohio to take a 5-4 lead on an unearned run. Ty Black singled and had reached third after a walk and a fielder's choice. He scored when Howard committed his second error of the inning on a grounder from Garrett Black.
BGSU took the lead back in the bottom of the eighth after an RBI double from Greg Basalyga and an RBI double from Patrick Lancaster. However, Ethan McKenney blew a save opportunity in the ninth with two outs. He allowed a base hit to Adryan, and Ty Black followed with a game-tying double.
Against Corey Wells, who earned the save on Saturday, the Falcons had the top of the batting order up in the bottom of the ninth. Bien flied out to right to lead off the inning, but Jesse Rait pushed a single up the middle on the next pitch. Down to his final strike, Shay lashed a double into the left-center gap. Rait raced home with the winning run for a 7-6 victory.
Shay, Losby and Walker each had two hits for BGSU. Losby scored two runs while Shay drove in two, including the game-winner. Ohio's Ty Black paced the Bobcat offense with four hits, but Adryan did the primary damage. He went 2-for-5 with two runs and three RBI, all on his eighth inning homer.
McKenney was awarded the win, his first of the season, for BGSU. Corey Wells was handed the loss and dropped to 1-2.
|Bowling Green Falcons||1||0||0||0||0||3||0||2||1||7||10||3|
|WP: Ethan McKenney (1-1)|
|LP: Corey Wells (1-2)|
Bowling Green ended the weekend back at .500 with a 23-23 overall record. They are now 13-11 in MAC play. The Falcons will conclude their regular season next weekend with a trip to Buffalo (23-22, 12-11 MAC) in a series that carries important seeding implications for the MAC Tournament.
BGSU could still win the Eastern Division and be the third seeds, but, if they fail to win a game at Buffalo, they could also still miss the tournament entirely, depending on how tiebreakers fall. However, either one win or losses by Western Michigan and Toledo would officially clinch a tournament spot for the Falcons.
Ohio is now 11-36 overall and 7-17 against MAC foes. They cannot earn a spot in the MAC Tournament and will conclude their season next weekend at home against Miami.