ATHENS, Ohio -- Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) bashed three home runs to help the Ohio baseball team (26-25, 12-10 MAC) hand Mid-American Conference East Division rival Kent State (34-15, 17-5 MAC) a 7-6 loss in the weekend series opener on Thursday (May 18) at Bob Wren Stadium.
The Bobcats beat the Golden Flashes at home for the first time since a 17-8 win on April 24, 2009.
Ohio has now won four league games in a row and has come away victorious in nine of its last 13 contests.
Finkler became the first Bobcat to go yard three times in a game since Gauntlett Eldemire achieved the feat on May 8, 2010, in a 17-5 victory over Buffalo at The Wren. Finkler drove in four runs in Friday's win over the Flashes. He has now tallied 10 multi-hit games in 2017 and seven contests with multiple RBIs. His trio of round trippers upped his season total to five.
Senior catcher Anthony Mrosla (Coon Rapids, Minn.) produced a multi-hit game for the Bobcats, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Junior left fielder Evan Bourn (Overland Park, Kan.) also went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) produced a pair of singles for his 18th multi-hit game of the year, which ranks second on the team.
Ohio jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) hit a one-out single to right center to get things going for the Bobcats. The base hit also extended his streak of reaching base to 27-straight games, which is the longest such streak on the team this season. One out later, redshirt junior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) singled to left center to drive home Black for the game's first run. After senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) sent a single back up the middle, junior right fielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) plated Klein with a base hit through the left side.
Finkler made it a 3-0 lead for Ohio with a one-out solo shot to left in the second.
Ohio's lead swelled to 6-0 thanks to a three-run fourth. Bourn got it started with a one-out single to right, then scored when Mrosla singled to right center and made it all the way to third on a Kent State fielding error on the play. Finkler then belted a two-run homer to left center to make it a six-run advantage for the Bobcats.
The Golden Flashes cut Ohio's lead in half in the top of the fifth, though. Sophomore third baseman Josh Hollander coaxed a leadoff walk, and freshman shortstop John Matthews followed with a single back up the middle. That set the table for a three-run home run to right by redshirt senior right fielder Luke Burch.
Kent State made it a two-run ballgame in the sixth when senior second baseman Dom Iero sent a two-out double to right and then scored on a single to right by Hollander.
Finkler provided the Bobcats with more insurance in the home half of the frame, though, when he smashed his third homer of the game -- a two-out solo shot to left center.
The Golden Flashes did not quit, though, and made it a one-run game when redshirt junior center fielder Mason Mamarella hit a one-out single to left center, setting the stage for junior first baseman Dylan Rosa to hit a two-run home run to left center.
Despite the Kent State rally, Ohio's bullpen locked down the victory for the Bobcats. Senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) retired the Flashes in order in the eighth, ending the top of the inning by striking out Hollander swinging. Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) came on in the ninth to seal the win. After Burch reached on a Bobcat fielding error and Mamarella followed with a single through the right side, Roehn was able to get Rosa to hit into a game-ending 6-3 double play. Roehn posted his career-high 13th save of the year, matching him with right-handed pitcher Logan Cozart (2015) for the single-season program record. His 18 career saves are good for second-most in program history.
Redshirt junior left-handed starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) picked up the win on the mound for Ohio, improving to 4-3 on the year. He threw 5.2 innings, striking out three while allowing four earned runs on nine hits and two walks.
Kent State junior southpaw starting pitcher Eli Kraus took the loss for the Golden Flashes, falling to 7-3 on the season. He surrendered a season-high six earned runs on nine hits. Kraus totaled four strikeouts.
Mamarella led Kent State's bats with a 3-for-4 effort that included a run scored. Redshirt junior left fielder Nick Kanavas tallied three singles. Burch went 2-for-4 with his three-run home run. He also walked.
Ohio will go for the series win over Kent State when the teams meet again on Friday (May 19) at Bob Wren Stadium. The contest was originally scheduled to get underway at 3 p.m. ET, but first pitch has been pushed up to 11 a.m. ET due to impending weather. Klein will start on the mound for the Bobcats and oppose sophomore righty Joey Murray of the Golden Flashes. 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein will have the call on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.