AMHERST, N.Y. -- Redshirt junior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) delivered a three-run triple, and redshirt junior left-handed starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) twirled seven strong innings on the mound to help lift the Ohio baseball team (23-25, 9-10 MAC) to a critical 5-3 win over Mid-American Conference East Division rival Buffalo (16-29, 8-11 MAC) on Friday (May 12) in the weekend series opener at Audobon Field.
The Bobcats have come way victorious in six of their last 10 league games as the stretch run to the 2017 MAC Championship heats up.
Ohio overcame at early deficit to come back and beat the Bulls. Buffalo posted the contest's first run in the home half of the first inning as senior center fielder Alex Thrower beat out a bunt single to lead things off and then scored one out later on a base hit to right center by senior designated hitter Vinny Mallaro. The Bulls had the bases loaded with one out, but Salisbury was able to escape further damage by getting senior catcher Kyle Brennan to foul out and senior second baseman Brian Dudek to strike out to end the frame.
The Bobcats responded by plating four runs on three hits in the top of the third to grab a 4-1 advantage. Senior catcher Anthony Mrosla (Coon Rapids, Minn.) got things going by leading off with a walk. Two outs later, senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) singled to center, and sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) followed with a walk to load the bases. Klein took advantage of the situation by knocking a three-run triple to right center to put Ohio in front. Senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) then plated Klein with a single to left.
Buffalo made it a one-run game by scoring two in the bottom of the frame. Senior third baseman Chris Kwitzer sent a leadoff single to center, then Brennan brought him around with a triple to center. One out later, Brennan cut Ohio's lead to 4-3 when he crossed the plate by way of an RBI ground out to short by redshirt freshman first baseman Connor Regan.
Ohio answered back in the top of the fourth, though, when Mrosla hit a one-out solo shot to left -- his third home run of the season -- to make it a two-run ballgame.
From there, the Bobcat pitching staff was masterful, holding Buffalo to just one walk over the final six innings to nail down the victory. Salisbury earned the pitching win, improving to 3-3 on the year. He struck out five over seven innings while giving up three earned runs on six hits and two walks. Redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) threw 1.2 scoreless innings, striking out two while permitting one walk. Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) got the final out of the game to pick up his career-high 11th save of the season, which ranks as the second most in a single season in program history. His 18 career saves also rank as the second most in program history.
With his RBI single in the third, Callery has now hit safely in 20-straight games, which is tied for the longest hitting streak in program history. Then-redshirt senior catcher Cody Gaertner set the program's record for longest hitting streak in 2016. The Bobcats also saw three players extend streaks for reaching base in the win over the Bulls. Black has now reached base in a team season-high 24 straight games while Rott has reached base in 21-straight games, which ranks second on the squad. Senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) coaxed a walk to lead off the top of the seventh, allowing him to reach base for the 18th game in a row, which ranks fourth on the team.
Kwitzer went 2-for-4 with a run scored to lead Buffalo's bats, giving him the distinction of being the only player to record multiple hits in Friday's game.
Junior right-handed starting pitcher Charlie Sobieraski was saddled with the loss on the mound for the Bulls, falling to 2-9 on the year. He fanned four but gave up five earned runs on six hits and five walks in 6.1 innings of work. Junior right-hander Ben Vey threw the final 2.2 frames for Buffalo, striking out one and giving up one hit.
Ohio goes for its fourth MAC series win and second in a row when it takes on Buffalo in a 1 p.m. ET matchup on Saturday (May 13). Klein will get the start on the mound for the Bobcats and oppose junior right-handed pitcher Shawn Dubin of the Bulls.