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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (3-1) makes the trek to Emerson, Ga., for the second weekend of the 2017 season, taking on SIU Edwardsville (2-2) in a four-game set.
The series opener is scheduled for Friday (Feb. 24) at 3 p.m. ET. The Bobcats and the Cougars are set to play two on Saturday (Feb. 25) beginning at 1 p.m. ET. First pitch of the Sunday (Feb. 26) finale is slated for 11 a.m. ET.
There will be no live scoring or streaming/radio broadcasts of this weekend's games.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Ohio R-Jr. LHP #8 Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) vs. SIU Edwardsville Jr. RHP #55 Nelson Martz
Saturday Game 1: Ohio Jr. LHP #11 Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) vs. SIU Edwardsville Jr. RHP #18 Brock Fulkerson
Saturday Game 2: TBD vs. SIU Edwardsville So. RHP #14 Danny Ehrsam
Sunday: Ohio R-Jr. RHP #27 Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) vs. SIU Edwardsville So. RHP #14 Jr. RHP #40 Brendan Miller
BOBCATS TAKE THREE OF FOUR IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Ohio opened the 2017 campaign by winning three of four neutral-site games in Lexington, S.C. last weekend.
The Bobcats lifted the lid off of the new season with a 10-2 win over La Salle last Friday (Feb. 17). Ohio took its second game against the Explorers on Saturday (Feb. 18) by a 14-5 score. The Bobcats suffered their first loss of the season later that afternoon in a 15-4 defeat at the hands of Butler, but Ohio bounced back on Sunday (Feb. 19) by shutting out the Bulldogs, 4-0.
Ohio's bats averaged eight runs per game and tallied nine extra base hits -- including three home runs. The Bobcats' pitching staff totaled 45 strikeouts over 35.0 innings.
KLEIN NAMED MAC EAST DIVISION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Redshirt junior infielder/right-handed pitcher Michael Klein was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week, as announced by the league office on Monday (Feb. 20).
Klein earned weekly conference honors for the first time in his Ohio career.
Klein put together a huge weekend for Ohio to help the Bobcats come away victorious in three of four games in Lexington, S.C. Klein led the team in batting average (.400), slugging percentage (.867), hits (6), home runs (2), RBIs (5) and total bases (13). He also scored three runs, walked twice and posted an on-base percentage of .471. Klein went 3-for-3 with a three-run home run to help Ohio thump La Salle in the 2017 season opener. The following day against the Explorers, he went 3-for-5 with a double and his second home run in as many days the victory for the Bobcats. Klein also got the start on the mound on Sunday (Feb. 19) in a 4-0 shutout of Butler. He tossed the first four scoreless frames, striking out five.
SENIOR SHINES ON OPENING WEEKEND
Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) led off the bottom of the first with a home run to left to start up Ohio's bats in the win over Butler. Finkler finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. His opening weekend three hits, four runs scored and five RBIs.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Opening weekend saw the Bobcats put the pitching depth that is expected to help carry them to success this season on display.
Redshirt junior southpaw starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) gave Ohio a solid 5.1 innings of work on the mound in the season opener, fanning eight while giving up two earned runs on four hits and two walks en route to picking up the victory.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.), senior right-hander Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.), redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) and freshman lefty Nick Byrnes (Cincinnati, Ohio) combined to toss 3.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Bobcats on opening day. Ogg struck out one while Colletti, Blessing and Byrnes each recorded two strikeouts.
Making his Ohio debut on the mound, junior southpaw starting pitcher Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) fanned three and allowed just one earned run on five hits in Saturday's victory over La Salle. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.), senior righty Christian Botter (Toronto, Ontario) and senior left-hander Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) combined to toss 2.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
In the Sunday finale against Butler, Klein, Colletti, senior righty Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) and senior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) combined to throw a four-hit shutout for the Bobcats. Klein tossed the first four scoreless frames, striking out five. Colletti fanned two in two innings of work. Rudnicki totaled four strikeouts over two frames. Roehn came on in the top of the ninth inning and struck out two.
Head coach Rob Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 87 games in his four seasons at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a Mid-American Conference tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
OHIO PICKED THIRD IN MAC EAST
Ohio was picked to finish third in the East Division according to the 2017 MAC Preseason Poll, as announced by the league office on Feb. 16. The preseason poll was voted on by the league's 11 head coaches.
The Bobcats garnered 44 points overall. Kent State was tabbed as the top team in the MAC East Division with nine first-place votes. The Golden Flashes totaled 61 points overall. Miami was picked to finish second in the East Division, tallying 56 points and receiving one first-place vote. Bowling Green (32 points; one first-place vote) and Buffalo (27 points) rounded out the MAC East predicted order of finish.
Ball State totaled 57 points overall and five first-place votes to earn the distinction of being the predicted winner of the MAC West Division. Central Michigan (49 points; two first-place votes), Toledo (36 points; one first-place vote), Northern Illinois (32 points; two first-place votes), Western Michigan (31 points; one first-place vote) and Eastern Michigan (26 points) were picked to finish behind the Cardinals.
The Golden Flashes garnered four votes to win the 2016 MAC tournament title while Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Miami, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan all received a vote to win the league's tournament crown.
ROEHN SHINES IN RETURN
Roehn sported a team-best 2.18 ERA and led the Bobcats with seven saves in 2016 after missing the 2015 campaign due to an injury. He fanned 43 over 23 appearances and 45.1 innings of work while surrendering just 11 earned runs on 42 hits and nine walks. His seven saves in 2016 tie him with Doug Stackhouse (1983) for the fourth-most in a single season in program history.
RU-DY, RU-DY, RU-DY
Sophomore infielder/catcher Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) returns after a stellar freshmen season. Rott was one of just four Bobcat position players to play in all 52 of Ohioâs games during the 2016 season, starting 51 of them.
Rott excelled at the plate for the Bobcats, ranking second on the team in RBIs (39), on-base percentage (.406) and doubles (13) and third in batting average (.319) and home runs (3). He tied for the team lead with 14 multi-RBI games -- including a team-high four outings with at least three RBIs. He also tied for second with 12 multi-hit games
Rott complemented his offensive prowess with quality defense. In 484 defensive chances, he committed just three errors, accumulating a fielding percentage of .940, which tied for the best on the team among players with more than 50 chances. Rott also helped the Bobcats turn two more than any other player on the squad, contributing on 39 double plays.
Rott was named to the 2016 Louisville Slugger All-Freshman Team for his efforts.
SCOUTING SIU EDWARDSVILLE
Led by first-year head coach Sean Lyons, SIU Edwardsville was picked to finish 10th of 11 teams in the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Poll.
Senior designated hitter Keaton Wright earned a spot on the 2017 Preseason All-OVC Team. Wright earned Second Team All-OVC honors last season after finishing as the sixth-leading hitter in the league with a .362 batting average. He led SIUE in nearly every offensive category including hits (67), home runs (5) and RBIs (37).
The Cougars went 2-2 on their opening weekend road trip at Seattle. After dropping a Friday doubleheader by scores of 4-1 and 9-3, SIU Edwardsville bounced back with a 6-0 shutout on Saturday and evened the weekend set with a 13-10 triumph on Sunday.
Senior infielder Alec Skender enjoyed a big opening weekend, hitting .467 with seven hits -- including a home run. Sophomore outfielder Jackson Layton batted .357 with five hits -- including a double and a home run -- and drove in a team-high six runs.
SIU Edwardsville is scheduled to throw four right-handed starting pitchers at the Bobcats this weekend -- junior Nelson Martz, junior Brock Fulkerson, sophomore Danny Ehrsam and sophomore Brendan Miller.
Ohio wraps up its stay in Emerson by taking on Alabama State next Tuesday (Feb. 28) in a 1 p.m. ET matchup.