May 22, 2008


Bowling Green uses small ball to edge Ohio


By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Get the leadoff hitter on and get him home.


That’s the philosophy that third-seeded Bowling Green used in its 5-4 win over No. 6 Ohio in the first game of the 2008 Mid-American Conference Tournament at VA Memorial Stadium.


The Falcons (32-18) won their 12th consecutive game and will play the winner of No. 2 Eastern Michigan and No. 7 Western Michigan on Thursday, while the Bobcats (27-29) meet the loser in an elimination game


Frank Berry (7-1) was strong on the mound for the Falcons, going 7.1 innings with six hits, two earned runs, two walks and no strikeouts.


“Everything was working today, my slider, my changeup, my fastball,” Berry said. “I felt really good today. I had a lot of pop on my fastball. I was hitting my spots and (catcher) Ryan Schlater did a good job back there. Early on, I was getting behind, but then as the game went on I started getting ahead and I think that’s what helped me. That’s my game. That’s how I pitch.”


He allowed only one of eight possible leadoff hitters to reach base.


“That’s always key,” Berry said. “When I run into trouble, it’s usually when that leadoff batter gets on. My goal today was to make sure I don’t walk that leadoff batter and that’s what I did.”


He had 14 groundball outs, including a double play in the fifth to squelch an Ohio rally.


“That’s what kind of pitcher I am,” Berry said. “My defense is always great, they’ve always got my back. I’m a groundball pitcher. They know that and that’s what happened.”


BGSU got it leadoff man on four times and each one scored. The Falcons started the scoring in the bottom of the first as Ryan Shay lined the first pitch down the left field line for a double, moved to third on a groundout to second by Andrew Foster and came in on a sacrifice fly by Brian Hangbers to make it 1-0.


Logan Meisler led off the second with a base hit up the middle, advanced to second on a walk to Mark Galvin, was sacrificed to third by Chris Gacom and scored on a groundout by Marty Baird to push the score to 2-0. Ryan Schlater started the third by reaching on a bunt single, moved to second on a base hit by Shay, advanced to third on a bunt single by Foster and scored on a one-out base hit by Derek Spencer to make it 3-0.


“We wanted to try to get Frank a lead early and try to get him to relax,” said BGSU head coach Danny Schmitz. “I knew both clubs were going to be a little pumped up for the first game of the tournament. We felt if we could go ahead and get Frank a lead, maybe we could get to relax a bit. I thought he did a great job today.”


The Bobcats broke through in the fourth as Matt Stiffler led off with a double off the wall and came around on a pair of groundouts to make it 3-1.


BGSU added another in the sixth as Chris Gacom had a leadoff single, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a double play and scored on a base hit by Shay to increase the lead to 4-1. The Falcons added one more in the seventh on Derek Spencer’s 10th home run to push the lead to 5-1.


Shay went 3 for 4 with a walk, one run and one RBI.


“Today we knew the wind wasn’t going to help us that much,” Shay said, “so we concentrated on hitting down through the ball, doing small ball, doing those things that got us here.”


OU made it close in the last two innings. The Bobcats loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but got just one on a groundout by Marc Krauss. Gauntlett Eldmire crushed a two-run homer in the ninth, but Kevin Leady rebounded to retire the next three Bobcats to earn his third save.