May 23, 2008


Bobcats barely best Broncos in breakfast battle


By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – It looked like binary code on the scoreboard, all zeroes and ones.


Sixth-seeded Ohio had one more one on its line as it eliminated No. 7 Western Michigan 5-4 on the second day of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at VA Memorial Stadium.


The Bobcats (28-29) will play again on Friday at 9 a.m. against the loser of the Bowling Green/Eastern Michigan game. The Broncos finished their season at 29-23-1.


Chris Klimko hit his third homer to lead off the sixth for the Bobcats (28-29) and snap a 3-3 tie. Matt Stiffler belted his 17th in the seventh to give OU a 5-3 cushion. Stiffler had three dingers a season ago.


“I worked hard in the offseason on hitting for more power like our coaches wanted me to,” Stiffler said. “I’m just putting the barrel on the ball. I’m not looking with two strikes to hit a ball out, like I did, it just goes. I’m making good contact.”


WMU made it close in the ninth as Joe Sheets went deep for the 10th time to make it a one-run contest. But starter Chris Rigo got the final three outs to complete the victory.


“I felt great at the end,” Rigo said after his 142-pitch outing. “For whatever reason, toward the end of the game I felt like I got more strength, probably from emotions and feeding off my team. It was a battle the whole way out and I’m glad we came out with a win.”


Rigo (6-3) notched his fourth complete game, allowing six hits, including three solo homers, four earned runs, three walks and seven strikeouts.


“He’s our go-to guy,” said Ohio head coach Joe Carbone. “He’s a guy that competes. He doesn’t always do what we want him to do. He gets real macho on that mound sometimes. Any home run Western hit was a mistake that he had up. Chris is a guy that, when he throws a lot of pitches, he’s a better pitcher. When he’s fresh, he throws the ball harder but his ball seems to be a little bit more straight.”


Zach Gentile homered in the first and Kyle Galbraith went deep in the third to knot the score at 2-2.


Stiffler doubled and scored in the first, Klimko singled and scored in the second, and Jeremie Rehak had a base hit and scored in the third as OU took a 3-2 lead.


“Our scouting report said that this guy threw a lot of fastballs,” Stiffler said, “so I was looking for a fastball, maybe up a little bit. He did, left it up and outside, so I jumped on it, hit it down the line and got into second. It was a good leadoff for the bottom of the first after they hit a home run and scored on us. It was good to score a run to even them out after the first inning bomb.”


Stiffler and Klimko each finished with two hits, two runs and one RBI. No Bronco had multiple hits, runs or RBI.