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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (14-12) returns to Bob Wren Stadium to play host to in-state rival Dayton (9-16) on Tuesday (April 4) in a 6 p.m. ET matchup.
Fans can find a $2 ticket voucher to the game on the Ohio Bobcats Twitter and Facebook pages (@OhioBobcats).
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BOBCATS SWEEP BALL STATE TO OPEN 2017 MAC SCHEDULE
Ohio came firing out of the gate to begin 2017 Mid-American Conference play last weekend at Ball Diamond in Muncie, Ind. The Bobcats swept MAC West Division foe Ball State, taking both games of a Saturday (April 1) doubleheader by scores of 6-4 and 7-4, then blasting the Cardinals, 10-0, in the Sunday (April 2) series finale.
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 on Sunday. 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.
IBARRA OFF TO STRONG START
Through 26 games in 2017, Ibarra leads the Bobcats with a .313 batting average and 18 runs scored, is tied for the team lead with 31 hits and four home runs, is second on the squad with 15 RBIs, ranks second with a .475 slugging percentage and a .369 on-base percentage and is third with four doubles. He is tied with Black and Callery for the team lead with eight multi-hit games.
Ibarra was named the MAC East Division Player of the Week on March 20. He earned weekly conference honors for the first time in his Ohio career after putting together a monster week (March 16-19) at the plate to help Ohio secure three victories at Bob Wren Stadium. Ibarra batted .467 with a 1.133 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage over four games and 15 at-bats. He collected a team-high seven hits and homered in three of the Bobcats' four games. He also tallied a team-high five RBIs and six runs scored.
Ohio's 0.984 team fielding percentage ranks fourth in the nation entering Tuesday's matchup. The Bobcats have committed just 16 errors in 26 games.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC in 2017. The Bobcats own a 3.38 ERA, which is the best in the league and ranks 36th in the NCAA. Ohio is also tops in the conference in hits allowed per nine innings (7.86) and ranks second in both strikeouts per nine innings (8.7) and walks allowed per nine innings (3.68).
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded four shutout victories in 26 games in 2017 after posting just one in 52 games in '16.
The tone for the Bobcats' success on the mound has been set up by the starting pitchers. Klein is 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA and is tied for the team lead with 36 strikeouts over 32.2 innings. He has given up just six earned runs and 10 walks. Junior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) sports a 3.07 ERA and a 4-0 record, fanning 30 over a team-high 41.0 innings. He was named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week on March 6 after helping Ohio come away with a weekend series win at Western Kentucky thanks to his performance on the mound on March 4 in a 3-0 shutout victory at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Ky. He improved to 2-0 on the bump this year, tossing 6.2 frames and striking out two while allowing four hits and two walks in his third start as the Bobcats blanked the Hilltoppers. Redshirt junior left-hander Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) is 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA. He is tied with Klein for the team lead with 36 strikeouts in 38.0 innings on the mound.
Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has made 12 appearances out of the bullpen, fanning 20 in just 17.2 innings while allowing just three earned runs. He has notched five saves this season, bringing his career total to 12, which is tied for the third most in program history. Roehn was named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week for the first time in his career on Feb. 27 after picking up both wins on the mound out of the bullpen in a 6-4 win over SIU Edwardsville on Feb. 25 and a 2-1 win in 13 innings over the Cougars the following day. He did not allow a run in five innings of relief and struck out eight while giving up just three hits and one walk over the two victories. Redshirt sophomore righty Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) owns a 1.00 ERA over six appearances and 9.0 frames of work. Moving to the bullpen after spending the last three seasons as a starting pitcher, senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) is fifth on the squad with 25 strikeouts over 18.0 innings of relief and owns a 2.00 ERA. Redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) has fanned 29 in nine appearances and 20.0 innings. He sports a 1.35 ERA, and he ranks fourth on the team in strikeouts. Mikolajczak has made 11 relief appearances and sports a 2.31 ERA. Senior righty Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) leads the team with 14 appearances out of the bullpen while sophomore right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) ranks second with 13. Colletti has a 2.86 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 22.0 innings of work.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving as the No. 3 pitcher in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein is slugging a team-best .490 and leads the squad with six doubles and 16 RBIs. He is also tied for the team lead with 31 hits and four home runs, ranks third on the team with a .298 batting average and a .360 on-base percentage and is fourth on the squad with 12 runs scored.
On Feb. 20, Klein was named MAC East Division Player of the Week. He put together a huge weekend for Ohio to help the Bobcats come away victorious in three of four games in Lexington, S.C., on the first weekend of the 2017 regular season. Klein led the team in batting average (.400), slugging percentage (.867), hits (6), home runs (2), RBIs (5) and total bases (13).
THREAT TO STEAL
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) has stolen nine bases in 10 attempts in 2017 to set a new career high.
Finkler is second on the team in runs scored (16) and is third in RBIs (14).
Rob Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 98 games at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a MAC tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
The Bobcats have totaled 44 MAC victories during Smith's tenure as head coach.
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.
On Feb. 13, Roehn was named to the 2017 Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List, as announced by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
RU-DY, RU-DY, RU-DY
Rott returns after a stellar freshmen season. Rott was one of just four Bobcat position players to play in all 52 of Ohio's 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.
Rott currently ranks fourth on the team with 26 hits -- including five doubles, which ranks second on the team. He is also third on the team with 15 runs scored and is fourth in on-base percentage (.353).
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THEIR OPPORTUNITIES
Callery and Bredeson are both taking advantage of increased playing time for the Bobcats in 2017.
Callery has started 24 of the 25 games he's played in this year, ranking second on the team with a .301 batting average and fifth in slugging percentage (.313), hits (25) and runs scored (11). Bredeson has made 14 starts in 18 games played, ranking third on the team in slugging percentage (.381), fourth in batting average (.270) and fifth in both on-base percentage (.343) and RBIs (11).
Ohio is set to play Dayton for the fourth time in the Smith era, with the Flyers owning a 2-1 edge over the Bobcats. Ohio came away with a 4-3 victory in the most recent meeting on April 12, 2016 in Dayton.
Tony Vittorio is in his 18th year as the head coach of the Flyers. Dayton enters Tuesday's contest on a three-game slide after being swept by St. Bonaventure over the weekend in Olean, N.Y., suffering losses of 9-0, 6-4 and 18-14.
Dayton was picked to finish 12 of 13 teams in the 2017 Atlantic 10 Conference Preseason Poll.
Sophomore infielder Connor Echols leads the Flyers with 29 hits and 15 RBIs. Redshirt freshman outfielder/right-handed pitcher Brandon Smith has belted a team-high four home runs.
Ohio hosts its first MAC series of the 2017 season when it welcomes West Division foe Central Michigan to The Wren for a three-game weekend set. The series begins on Friday (April 7) with a 6 p.m. ET first pitch. The Saturday (April 8) matchup is slated to get underway at 3 p.m. ET while the Sunday (April 9) finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET start time. 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein will have the call of all three games on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.