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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (20-23, 6-9 MAC) plays host to a big three-game series between Mid-American Conference East Division rivals as Bowling Green (11-28, 6-12 MAC) visits Bob Wren Stadium this weekend.
The weekend set opens Friday (May 5) with a 6 p.m. ET matchup. The first pitch of the Saturday (May 6) contest is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET while the Sunday (May 7) series finale is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. ET. The series finale will mark another 'Sunday Funday', with all fans receiving free admission courtesy of OhioHealth. Kids will also have the opportunity to run the bases at Bob Wren Stadium following the game.
'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.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Ohio R-Jr. LHP #8 Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) vs. Bowling Green R-Jr. RHP #18 Tyler Anderson | Gametracker
Satuday: Ohio R-Jr. RHP #27 Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) vs. Bowling Green Jr. RHP Zac Carey | Gametracker
Sunday: Ohio TBD vs. Bowling Green TBD | Gametracker
OHIO FALLS AT MOREHEAD STATE DESPITE SEASON-HIGH SIX HOME RUNS
Ohio piled up a season-high 19 hits -- including a season-high six home runs -- but came up short to Morehead State, 15-14, its final midweek road game of the 2017 season on Tuesday (May 2) at John "Sonny" Allen Field.
The two teams combined to plate 29 runs on 36 hits. Four Bobcats combined to smash six home runs in the loss.
Returning to the lineup after a six-game absence due to injury, redshirt junior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) went 5-for-6 with a pair of homers, a double, four RBIs and three runs scored, upping his season home run total to six.
Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) finished 5-for-6 with two dingers, a double, three RBIs and three runs scored. His pair of homers bumped his season total up to nine.
Senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) homered for the first time in his Ohio career and added two singles, a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) went 2-for-5 with his team-high 11th home run of the year. He also walked and tallied two RBIs and a run scored.
BOBCATS LOSE SERIES AT WESTERN MICHIGAN
Ohio lost two of three games to Mid-American Conference West Division foe Western Michigan last weekend at Robert J. Bobb Stadium at Hyames Field.
The Bobcats fell to the Broncos in the opening game of a Friday (May 28) doubleheader as Western Michigan produced a 3-2 walk-off win. In the second game of the twin bill, Ohio rallied back from a 12-5 deficit in the fifth inning to produce a marathon 17-13 win that took two days complete. The Bobcats led, 15-12, in the top of the eighth inning when the contest was called due to darkness Friday night. The Bobcats wrapped up the win on Saturday (April 29) morning. The Green & White pounded out a season-high 17 runs on 17 hits and saw five players record multi-hit efforts. Freshman left fielder Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) enjoyed a breakout performance at the plate, going a career-best 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two walks, two RBIs and five runs scored. Western Michigan completed the weekend series win, though, by blanking the Bobcats, 9-0, in the finale on Saturday afternoon.
ROEHN NAMED TO NCBWA 2017 STOPPER OF THE YEAR MIDSEASON WATCH LIST
Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has been honored as one of 40 of the top relief pitchers in college baseball to be named to the Midseason Watch List for the 13th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, as announced by members of the association on April 26.
Roehn is one of 16 of the 40 players who were on the preseason watch list released on Feb. 13 and is the lone representative from the MAC.
Roehn has made 21 appearances out of the bullpen in 2017, sporting a 3-3 record with a 2.20 ERA and 35 strikeouts over 32.2 innings of work. He has allowed just eight earned runs on 28 hits and 12 walks.
Roehn threw the final three frames for Ohio to secure the victory over Western Michigan for the Bobcats and nail down his career-high 10th save of the season, which ranks as the second-most in a single season in program history. He struck out three while allowing one earned run on three hits. His 17 career saves are tied for the second-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.
Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006 and Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007. Georgia's Joshua Fields topped the field in 2008, San Diego State's Addison Reed grabbed the honor in 2009 and Texas' Chance Ruffin earned the honor in 2010. The Longhorns' Corey Knebel won in 2011, with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. UCLA's David Berg was crowned the winner in 2013, Louisville's Nick Burdi took home the 2014 honor and Berg became the award's first two-time winner in 2015. Miami (Fla.)'s Bryan Garcia was honored as the 2016 recipient.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I, II and III Players of the Week and Division I, II and III Players of the Year.
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.
IBARRA OFF TO STRONG START
Through 42 games in 2017, Ibarra leads the Bobcats with a .331 batting average, a .589 slugging percentage (third-best in the MAC), a .405 on-base percentage, 58 hits, a MAC-high 11 home runs and 34 runs scored. He also ranks second on the team with 32 RBIs and 10 doubles and is tied for second on the squad with 15 walks. He has tallied a team-high 18 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI contests. He's hit safely in each of the last 10 games, which currently ranks as the second-longest such streak on the club.
Ibarra has been named MAC East Division Player of the Week twice in 2017, with his most recent honor coming on April 4. He helped Ohio start MAC play 3-0 for the first time since 1997 with his effort at the plate, leading the Bobcats in batting average (.462), slugging percentage (.615), hits (6), doubles (2) and runs scored (4). He also drove in three runs. Ibarra opened the week by going 3-for-4 in a 3-0 loss at Ohio State on March 28 in Columbus. He then went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored in the 6-4 win over Ball State in the opening game of a doubleheader on April 1. Ibarra finished the series by going 1-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in a 7-4 win in the second game of the twin bill, then going 1-for-2 with a pair of stolen bases in the 10-0 blowout of the Cardinals in the finale on April 2 that clinched the series sweep for the Bobcats.
Ohio's 0.982 team fielding percentage ranks seventh in the nation entering this weekend's series. The Bobcats have committed just 29 errors in 43 games.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC in 2017. The Bobcats own a 4.69 team ERA, which is third-best in the league. Ohio also ranks second in the MAC in walks allowed per nine innings (4.27), third in strikeouts per nine innings (8.2) and fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (9.42).
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded four shutout victories 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 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA (second-best in the MAC) and is fourth on the team lead with 40 strikeouts over 43.2 innings. He has given up just 13 earned runs and 15 walks. Junior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) sports a 4-3 record, fanning a team-high 50 over 58.1 innings to rank second on the squad. 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, 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 second on the team with 46 strikeouts and has thrown a team-high 60.2 innings on the mound.
Moving to the bullpen after spending the last three seasons as a starting pitcher, senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) is third on the squad with 43 strikeouts over 32.0 innings of relief. He was named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week for the first time in 2017 and second time in his career last Monday (April 24). He helped Ohio finish with three victories in four games two weeks ago with his performance out of the bullpen, going 2-0 with four strikeouts while allowing just six hits, four walks and no runs over three appearances and 4.2 innings of work. Rudnicki threw one scoreless inning of relief on April 19 in an 11-10 win in 10 innings over longtime rival Marshall at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio, fanning two while giving up a hit and a walk. On April 21, he picked up his first victory on the mound of the 2017 season in a 9-5 triumph over MAC East Division archrival Miami at Bob Wren Stadium, striking out one while surrendering just three hits and two walks in 1.2 frames. Rudnicki improved to 2-3 on the year by earning the win on the mound in the Sunday (April 23) series finale -- a 3-2 win that allowed the Bobcats to clinch the weekend series from the RedHawks. He struck out one while giving up two hits and a walk in two scoreless frames of relief. Redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) has fanned 41 in 18 appearances and 31.2 innings, ranking fourth on the team in strikeouts. Senior southpaw Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) has made 20 relief appearances and sports a 3.32 ERA. Senior righty Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) and sophomore right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) are tied for the conference lead with 22 appearances out of the bullpen. Colletti has notched 33 strikeouts in 37.0 innings of work.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving one of the three arms in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein is third on the team in slugging percentage (.484) and RBIs (24) and fifth in hits (46). His 24 runs scored are tied for third on the team while his eight doubles and six home runs are also both tied for third on the squad.
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).
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.
Through 43 games in 2017, Rott leads the leads the Bobcats with 35 RBIs, 12 doubles and 17 walks, ranks second on the team with a .532 slugging percentage, 52 hits, 31 runs scored and a career-high nine home runs.
Rott was named MAC East Division Player of the Week for the first time in his career on April 17 after putting together a monster week at the plate for Ohio, batting .429 with a team-best 1.190 slugging percentage and recording a team-high nine hits -- including a team-high five home runs -- to go along with a team-high 13 RBIs and seven runs scored, which tied for the team lead. Rott opened the week by going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored on April 11 in a 6-5 victory at Youngstown State. The following day at Marshall, he tallied his second home run of the season. Rott then came up with two huge performances in the final two games of a three-game set at MAC West Division foe Eastern Michigan. On April 15, he went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs and six RBIs. Rott closed the week out by providing the Bobcats with three hits -- including a pair of home runs -- and driving in six runs for the second game in a row in the April 16 series finale.
LOOKING TO FINISH STRONG
A four-year starter for the Bobcats, senior infielder Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) is looking to finish his career at Ohio on a high note. He is third on the squad with 48 hits -- including eight doubles, which is tied for third on the team. He is also tied for third on the team with 24 runs scored and ranks fifth with 19 RBIs.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THEIR OPPORTUNITIES
Callery and redshirt junior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) are both taking advantage of increased playing time for the Bobcats in 2017.
Callery has started 41 of the 42 games he's played in this year, ranking second on the team with a .320 batting average, third with 49 hits and fourth with a .369 on-base percentage. He has hit safely in each of the last 15 games, which currently leads the team. Moving into the role of starting third baseman this year, Callery has committed just four errors at the hot corner and owns a .958 fielding percentage. Bredeson has made 22 starts in 32 games played, ranking fifth in both slugging percentage (.396) and doubles (7).
Three other Bobcats have been called upon to step up in the absence of other players due to injuries during the month of April -- senior catcher Anthony Mrosla (Coon Rapids, Minn.), junior outfielder Evan Bourn (Overland Park, Kan.) and freshman catcher Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.). Mrosla made 10 starts in April, tallying 11 hits. Bourn started six games, totaling six hits. Piechnick logged 15 hits -- including four doubles and a triple -- in seven starts.
THREAT TO STEAL
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) has stolen 14 bases in 16 attempts in 2017 to set a new career high.
Finkler is tied for third on the team in runs scored (24) and ranks fourth RBIs (22). Defensively, he owns a .981 fielding percentage and has logged a team-high 138 assists.
Rob Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 104 games at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a MAC tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
The Bobcats have totaled 47 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.
SCOUTING BOWLING GREEN
Ohio is 4-8 against Bowling Green in the Smith era. The Falcons took two of three games from the Bobcats in Bowling Green last year (April 15-17). Bowling Green won the first two games of the series by scores of 5-4 and 6-2 before Ohio salvaged the weekend with a 10-5 triumph in the finale.
Danny Schmitz is in his 27th season as head coach of the Falcons. His 690 overall victories rank as the second-most all-time in MAC history.
Bowling Green dropped two of three games to MAC East Division rival Miami at home last weekend. The RedHawks took both games of a Friday doubleheader by scores of 10-4 and 9-6 before the Falcons bounced back with a 3-1 victory in the Sunday (April 30) series finale.
Junior infielder Randy Righter has compiled a team-high 43 hits -- including 10 doubles, which is tied with senior infielder Greg Basalyga for the team lead. Basalyga has also belted a team-high five home runs and is tied with freshman outfielder Jake Wilson for the team lead with 22 RBIs.
Ohio hosts its final midweek game of the 2017 season next Tuesday (May 9) when longtime rival Marshall visits Bob Wren Stadium for a 6 p.m. ET matchup.