MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ohio baseball team (14-12, 3-0 MAC) put together its most complete effort of the 2017 season to date, bashing Mid-American Conference West Division foe Ball State (11-17, 0-6 MAC), 10-0, on Sunday (April 2) at Ball Diamond to complete the weekend series sweep.
The Bobcats opened the weekend series by taking both games of a Saturday (April 1) doubleheader, posting victories of 6-4 and 7-4.
Ohio is off to its first 3-0 start to MAC play since the 1997 squad began the league slate 4-0. The Bobcats last swept a MAC series May 8-10, 2015, recording wins of 5-0, 10-3 and 10-2 at Eastern Michigan. Ohio swept a series from Ball State for the first time since a four-game sweep in 1996 and swept a three-game series in Muncie for the first time.
The Bobcats' bats exploded for 10 runs on a season-high 18 hits. Ohio's 10-run margin of victory over Ball State represented the program's largest in a MAC game since a 17-5 throttling of MAC East Division archrival Miami on May 16, 2015, in Oxford, Ohio. The Bobcats defeated the Cardinals by at least 10 runs for the first time since logging a 14-4 win since the 2003 MAC Tournament.
Five Bobcats tallied multi-hit efforts in the victory. Sophomore center fielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) went a perfect 4-for-4 with a walk, two RBIs and a run scored. Senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) finished 3-for-5 with his first home run of the 2017 season, a walk, three RBIs and two runs scored. Redshirt junior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) went 3-for-5 with a triple. Senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) posted a 3-for-4 effort that included a double, a walk and two runs scored. Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.
The performance by Ohio's pitching staff was just as a stellar, as the Bobcats held the Cardinals to just four hits and four walks en route to the squad's fourth shutout win of the 2017 season. Ohio posted its first MAC regular season shutout win since the 5-0 win at Eastern Michigan in 2015 and shutout Ball State for the first since a 1-0 win in Muncie in 2000.
Redshirt junior right-handed starting pitcher Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) was masterful in eight innings on the mound, fanning nine while allowing just four hits and four walks. His nine strikeouts matched his career high. Senior southpaw Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) tossed a perfect ninth inning. Neither Klein nor Mikolajczak allowed an extra-base hit.
Ohio tallied its first run in the top of the fourth inning when Black led off with a base hit through the left side and scored two outs later on a single through the right side by Garcia.
The Bobcats extended their lead to 3-0 in the fifth. Rott led off with a single to left to set the table for Black's one-out, two-run blast left.
Ohio extended its advantage to four runs in the seventh as Rott sent a leadoff base hit to right, stole second one out later and then scored single back up the middle by Black.
The Bobcats tacked on two more runs in the eighth. Callery smacked a leadoff double to right center, then advanced to third on a one-out single back up the middle by Garcia. After senior left fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) loaded the bases when he reached by way of catcher's interference, Callery scored when Rott was hit by a pitch. Garcia scored Ohio's sixth run when Klein helped his cause with an RBI base hit to left center.
Ohio put an exclamation point on its convincing win over the MAC West Division preseason favorite with a four-run ninth. Bredeson got the frame started with a triple to left center, then was lifted for senior pinch runner Mateus Vakuda (Sao Paulo, Brazil). Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) drove Vakuda home with a single to center. Callery singled to right and junior right fielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) walked to load the bases with Bobcats. Garcia plated Finkler by beating out an infield single to third. Ibarra then served up a sacrifice fly to center, allowing Callery to tag up from third and score. One out later, freshman Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) delivered a pinch-hit single to short, and Giannini scored Ohio's final run of the game on a Ball State throwing error on the play.
Redshirt senior southpaw starting pitcher Kevin Marnon suffered the loss for the Cardinals, dropping to 2-4 on the year. He struck out four but gave up three earned runs on five hits and three walks over 4.1 frames of work.
Ohio returns to Bob Wren Stadium on Tuesday (April 4) to battle in-state rival Dayton (9-16) in a 6 p.m. ET matchup.