ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (11-9) pushed across a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to force extra innings but ultimately fell to visiting Butler (14-7), 4-3, in 11 innings on Friday (March 24) in the weekend series opener at Bob Wren Stadium.
"Our bats just weren't as competitive as we would have like to seen," said head coach Rob Smith. "We didn't find any barrel at all when we had guys in scoring position. It was all fly balls or slow rollers. With our bullpen, if we score a run late I expect to win."
The Bulldogs took an early 1-0 lead when junior first baseman Garrett Christman doubled to right field in the top of the first to score junior second baseman Zach Jarosz from second base.
Ohio loaded the bases in the bottom of the second inning as senior shortstop Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) hit a one-out double down the left field line, senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) followed by beating out an infield single to second and senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) drew a walk one out later. The Bobcats were not able to come away with any runs, though, and Butler responded in the top of the third with a solo shot to center field from junior center fielder Tyler Houston.
The Bobcats got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth to cut Butler's lead to 2-1 when redshirt junior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) singled to shortstop to drive home Black, who had reached base by hitting a one-out double to left center.
Butler got the run back in the ensuing frame, though, when senior shortstop Michael Hartnagel smacked a one-out double to center and then scored on a base hit back up the middle by junior designated hitter Jordan Lucio.
Ohio chipped away at the lead again in the bottom of the seventh. Black led off with an infield single, advanced to third on a Butler fielding error and then scored on an RBI ground out by Bredeson.
Butler redshirt senior right-handed closer Chris Myjak entered the contest in the bottom of the ninth looking to wrap up his eighth save of the year. He had not allowed a run in eight prior appearances out of the bullpen in 2017. Black led off by beating out an infield single to second, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore center fielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio). Sophomore infielder Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) drew a walk one out later, bringing senior left fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) up to bat. Down to his last strike, Ibarra singled to left field to plate Black and send the game into extra innings.
Houston put the Bulldogs in position to retake the lead in the 10th when he led off with a double to down the left field line and stole third one out later, but senior right-handed reliever Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) got junior right fielder Gehrig Parker to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, Butler took a 4-3 lead in the 11th. Lucio led off with a double to left and was lifted for junior pinch runner Cole Malloy. Malloy advanced to third on a passed ball, then scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. The Bobcats put the tying run on first in the home half of the frame when Bredeson sent a two-out single to center, but Ohio could not cash in as Myjak tallied a strikeout to end the contest.
Black went 3-for-4 with a double, drew a walk and scored all three of Ohio's runs to lead the Bobcats at the plate. Bredeson contributed two singles and a pair of RBIs.
Rudnicki suffered the loss on the mound for the Bobcats, falling to 0-2 on the season. He struck out one but allowed one unearned run on three hits and a walk. Redshirt junior southpaw starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) tossed the first six frames for Ohio, fanning four while surrendering three earned runs on four hits and a walk. Senior right-hander Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) gave the Bobcats three strong scoreless frames of relief. He struck out three while giving up two hits.
Despite blowing the save, Myjak earned his first win of the season with three innings of relief. He struck out three while permitting an earned run on three hits and a walk. Butler senior left-handed starting pitcher Jeff Schank tallied seven strikeouts over eight innings of work. He gave up two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and two walks.
Lucio finished 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI to lead Butler's bats. Houston went 2-for-5 with a double and a home run while redshirt senior left fielder Chris Maranto collected a double and a single.
Due to impending weather on Sunday (March 26), Ohio and Butler will now close the three-game weekend series with a doubleheader on Saturday (March 25) beginning at 1 p.m. ET at The Wren.