With the bases loaded and down 4-3 in the top of the seventh, the Wednesday’s game hinged on catcher Madison Claytor to keep the game alive in the Diamond at Dix.
Kent State had just brought in reliever Ronnie Ladines after Janel Haynes threw six innings before a collapse in the seventh inning. Ladines first action was to walk Claytor and tie the game at 4-4 before Mikayla Cooper fouled out to end the Bobcats’ at-bat.
The Golden Flashes weren’t able to capitalize in the bottom of the seventh but Erika Warren’s walkoff single against Danielle Stiene in the ninth inning gave the Golden Flashes a 5-4 win.
Earlier in the game, it seemed like Ohio (24-14, 6-5 in MAC) might be able to cruise to a victory. The Bobcats scored three runs in the first inning, continuing their hot streak of putting up multiple runs early in games.
Deanna Cole started it off with a single struck back at the pitcher and proceeded to steal second before Morgan Geno was walked. Cooper popped up a flyball near second base but the ball was dropped, allowing Geno to advance to third, Cooper to reach second and Cole to score the first run of the game.
Casie Hutchinson was next to bat and shot a single to the right side to bring in two more runs and give Ohio a dominating lead in the first inning.
Kent (24-13, 7-4) brought one back in the bottom of the first, however, as Kent’s Shelbi Tilton’s single down the left side brought in the Golden Flashes’ only run for the next couple innings.
They would eventually take the lead in the fourth inning, prompting Ohio coach Jodi Hermanek to bring in Stiene to finish out the rest of the game.
Stiene pitched well, holding the Golden Flashes scoreless until extra innings and allowing Ohio to tie the score in the seventh, but she ultimately fell to a solid team.
The loss catapults Kent above Ohio in the MAC East standings by a game, brings Ohio to fourth in the division above only Buffalo and Bowling Green. In contrast, it brings the Golden Flashes to second in the division and third in the conference overall.
Despite the fact that the Bobcats won the overall series against Kent, 2-1, it also gives it bragging rights headed into the stretch run of the season. With Ohio being picked to win the MAC regular-season title and the Golden Flashes being chosen to win the MAC Tournament, the rivalry between the two teams will likely play out throughout the rest of the season.
If the two meet in the first round of the conference tournament, as they did in 2014, it will likely be just as interesting as the first three games. For now, the Bobcats turn their attention to the team sitting narrowly ahead of them in the standings: Akron.
Ohio has a three-game series against the Zips over the weekend and if it can take two of the three, it can move them into contention for the top three spots in the conference. And with Kent playing the MAC-leading RedHawks next, it’s more than likely that this game will only be a blip on Ohio’s radar as it moves further into the season.