After winning the team’s home opener at Oestrike Stadium against Concordia University, the Eastern Michigan University baseball team hosted its first in-conference series against the Ohio University Bobcats.
With games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, EMU had plenty of work to do while many were home for the Easter holiday. The Eagles lost 5-3 on Friday, but took the last two games 5-4 and 13-6, respectively.
The Eagles (11-14 overall, 1-4 Mid-American Conference) committed one too many errors in the first game to lose in extra innings, but then rebounded to get a win Saturday with a good pitching performance by redshirt senior Brian Hill. And on Easter Sunday, the Eagle bats did all the talking.
Ohio jumped to an early 2-0 lead to start the weekend, but a run in the sixth and seventh innings by EMU tied it at 2-2. Bobcat J.R. Reynolds responded with an RBI single in the seventh, giving OU the lead back, 3-2.
Center fielder Daniel Russell led off the eighth inning with a stand up triple and then scored on an infield single hit by Jamie Simpson, making it a 3-3 ball game.
The fourth error by EMU was the deciding factor of this game.
Senior Joe Battistelli, who had been in the game since he relieved starter Neil Butara in the eighth inning, hit Bobcat Nate Squires to start off the 12th inning. Squires then advanced to second on a wild pitch. OU played some small ball with Ben Otto showing bunt the whole way. Simpson, now playing first base, charged hard to play the bunt.
Otto laid down his bunt and Simpson picked up the ball, checked to third base, then threw it wide right to Marquise Gill covering first base. Squires made it home on the bad throw while Otto coasted into third. An RBI single by Alex Corna would give the Bobcats a 5-3 win.
On Saturday, the team went into the game with a changed attitude.
“Today is a new day,” redshirt junior Sam Ott said, using his twitter account.
Russell started off the game with a double, then scored on a wild pitch by OU’s Marck Paliotto. EMU freshman John Rubino then walked and made it to second on another Paliotto wild pitch. Ott, hitless on Friday, hit a full-count RBI single to left-center field.
Catcher Adam Sonabend, an early candidate to win the Johnny Bench Award, brought Ott in with an RBI double to left field, giving the Eagles an early 3-0 lead.
Hill (2-1), hitless through three innings, gave up a solo home run to center fielder Tyler Wells, cutting the lead to 3-1.
Austin Williams, who had a 9-pitch walk in the first inning, had an RBI groundout (Simpson scored) to shortstop to give EMU its three-run lead back.
Designated hitter Lee Longo was hitless in this game, but was responsible for what would be the winning run in the fifth inning. Rubino made it to third base after a throwing error and moved over after Ott flew out to center field. Longo’s RBI fielder’s choice gave the Eagles the team’s fifth run of the game.
Hill gave up another run in the sixth, then a second solo homer in the seventh (Dan Schmidt). Taylor Dimmerling would replace Hill after the next batter. Hill gave up three runs off five hits with a strikeout and a pair of walks.
Dimmerling immediately got himself into trouble, loading up the bases with one out, but ended the seventh after getting the 6-4-3 double play.
Giving up a double to start the ninth inning, Kristian Calibuso came in to relieve Dimmerling for the save opportunity. Striking out his first two batters and giving up an RBI double to Otto, Calibuso would get Cody Gaertner to ground out for his first save of the year.
EMU won its first conference game of the year with a score of 5-4.
EMU took the series with a big win in the finale over the Bobcats. There were 28 hits between the two teams (16 from EMU) in the 13-6 tilt.
Ott had a field day in the Easter Sunday finale.
With the score 1-1 going into the third inning, RBI hits by Ott, Simpson and Dae Bowden boosted the score 5-1 in the four-run, four-hit, single-inning rally.
Leading 7-1 in the sixth inning, Ott hit his second homer of the season (two RBIs), to give EMU the eight-run edge.
Ott’s last at bat of the game was a bases-loaded, two run single up the middle, bringing Russell and Gill in to score. The green and white would lead the Bobcats 12-5.
Ott finished the day batting 3-for-5 with 5 RBIs and scored a pair of runs.
The Eagles finished the team’s homestretch with a 3-9 loss to the Michigan State Spartans (16-8) Wednesday.
Wednesday’s game also featured EMU sorority Alpha Xi Delta promoting autism awareness.
At the game, a child from EMU’s Autism Collaborative Center threw the first pitch, and families from all over the community attended the game.