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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (22-25, 8-10 MAC) heads north to Amherst, N.Y., this weekend for a crucial three-game series at Audubon Field against MAC East Division rival Buffalo that will have major conference tournament implications riding on it. The series opener is scheduled for Friday (May 12) at 3 p.m. ET while the Saturday (May 13) and Sunday (May 14) games are both set for 1 p.m. ET starts.
The final road weekend series of the 2017 regular season for the Bobcats marks the final home series ever for the Bulls, as the program will discontinue following the season.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Ohio R-Jr. LHP #8 Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) vs. Buffalo Jr. RHP #26 Charlie Sobieraski | Live Stats
Satuday: Ohio R-Jr. RHP #27 Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) vs. Buffalo Jr. RHP #16 Shawn Dubin | Live Stats
Sunday: Ohio TBD vs. vs. Buffalo R-Jr. RHP #7 Brent Cleland | Live Stats
MAC POSTSEASON IMPLICATIONS
The Bobcats and the Bulls are currently tied for seventh place in the league standings with matching 8-10 records in league play. The top eight teams will qualify for the double elimination 2017 MAC Championship, which is set to be held May 24-28 at Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio. A series win for Ohio would significantly increase the probability the squad qualifies for the conference tournament for a second time in three seasons.
OHIO DROPS FINAL MIDWEEK GAME OF 2017 TO MARSHALL
Ohio was defeated by longtime rival Marshall, 5-2, in its final midweek game of the 2017 season on Tuesday (May 9) at Bob Wren Stadium.
The Thundering Herd took the season series from the Bobcats with the win. Marshall posted a 12-9 victory in Huntington, W. Va., on April 12, but the Bobcats pulled out an 11-10 win in 10 innings on April 19 in Mason, Ohio, to even the season series.
Senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two RBIs. He has now reached base in a team season-high 23-straight games and has tallied 15 multi-hit games, which ranks fourth on the squad.
Senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) extended his team season-high hitting streak to 19-straight games by going 3-for-4 with a walk.
Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) tallied a pair of singles, giving him 16 multi-hit games this year, which ranks third on the team.
BOBCATS PICK UP THIRD MAC SERIES WIN, TAKE TWO FROM BOWLING GREEN
Ohio earned its third Mid-American Conference series win of the year as it took two of three games from East Division rival Bowling Green last weekend at Bob Wren Stadium. The Bobcats took a weekend series from the Falcons for the first time since 2011 and for the first time at home since '06.
Rott bashed his first career grand slam to help power the Bobcats to a 9-1 victory on Friday (May 5) in the weekend series opener. He hit his career-high 10th home run of the 2017 season, smacked a double and matched his career high with six RBIs. Junior right fielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) finished 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs while Callery went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) finished 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Black walked twice and scored three of Ohio's nine runs. Redshirt junior left-handed starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) gave the Bobcats a strong outing on the mound, earning the win en route to improving to 2-3 on the year. He struck out seven over seven frames while allowing one earned run on four hits and a walk. Redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) and senior southpaw Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) came on in relief of Salisbury. Blessing struck out three in 1.1 perfect innings while Mikolajczak struck out one to help to record the final two outs of the ballgame.
Ohio exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on its way to a 9-4 triumph on Saturday (May 6). The Bobcats clinched the weekend series with the win over the Falcons. Ohio's bats piled up 13 hits while the pitching staff limited Bowling Green to just five. The Bobcats recorded double-digit hits for the 20th time in 2017. Redshirt junior right-handed starting pitcher/desginated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) went 2-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored at the plate. He has hit safely in the last six games he's played in. On the mound, Klein struck out two over 3.2 frames while allowing two earned runs on three hits and four walks. Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Junior left fielder Evan Bourn (Overland Park, Kan.) tallied a double and a single, walked, drove in a run and scored another. Callery continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Ibarra collected two singles and scored two runs.
Ohio rallied back from two-run deficits twice to tie the game but ultimately lost a tough 5-4 decision in the Sunday (May 7) series finale.
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 22 appearances out of the bullpen in 2017, sporting a 3-4 record with a 2.06 ERA and 38 strikeouts over 35.0 innings of work. He has allowed just eight earned runs on 31 hits and 12 walks.
Roehn threw the final three frames for Ohio to secure a 17-13 victory at Western Michigan for the Bobcats and nail down his career-high 10th save of the season, which currently leads the MAC, ranks 25th in the NCAA and 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.
In MAC play, Roehn sports a 1.26 ERA with four saves and has struck out 11 while giving up just two earned runs on 14 hits and four walks over 14.1 innings.
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 47 games in 2017, Ibarra leads the Bobcats with a .565 slugging percentage (fourth-best in the MAC), a .409 on-base percentage, 63 hits, a MAC-high 11 home runs and 39 runs scored. He is also tied for the team lead with 18 walks and ranks second on the team with a .330 batting average, 32 RBIs and 10 doubles. He has tallied a team-high 20 multi-hit games and has totaled eight multi-RBI contests, which is tied for the team lead.
In MAC play, Ibarra is hitting .342 with a .575 slugging percentage and a .425 on-base percentage and has tallied 25 hits (second on the team) -- including six doubles (tied for second on the team), a triple and three home runs (second on the team). He has driven 10 runs while scoring a team-high 18 in league play.
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 0.981 team fielding percentage ranks eighth in the nation entering this weekend's series. The Bobcats have committed just 33 errors in 47 games.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC in 2017. The Bobcats own a 4.56 team ERA, which is third-best in the league. Ohio also ranks second in walks allowed per nine innings (4.14), third in strikeouts per nine innings (8.2) and fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (9.25).
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 3.61 ERA and is fifth on the team with 42 strikeouts over 47.1 innings. He has given up just 19 earned runs and 19 walks. Junior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) sports a 4-3 record, fanning a team-high 55 batters over 63.1 innings, which ranks 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. Salisbury is tied with Baird for the team lead 53 strikeouts and has thrown a team-high 67.2 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 fourth on the squad with 45 strikeouts over 34.0 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 on 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. Blessing has fanned 46 in 20 appearances and 35.2 innings, ranking third on the team in strikeouts. Mikolajczak has made 22 relief appearances and sports a 2.95 ERA. Sophomore right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) is tied for the conference lead with 24 appearances out of the bullpen while senior righty Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) has made 23 appearances, which is tied for second in the league. Colletti has notched 36 strikeouts in 41.0 innings of work.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving one of the three arms in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein ranks third on the team in slugging percentage (.482), home runs (6) and RBIs (25), fourth in batting average (.301) and doubles (8) and fifth in on-base percentage (.356), hits (50) and runs scored (26).
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 47 games in 2017, Rott leads the leads the Bobcats in RBIs (44; fourth in the MAC) and doubles (14), is tied for the team lead in walks (18), ranks second in slugging percentage (.543; seventh in the MAC), on-base percentage (.391), hits (58), home runs (10) and runs scored (33) and third in batting average (.309). He ranks third on the team with 16 multi-hit games and is tied for the team lead with eight multi-RBI games.
In MAC play, Rott is hitting at a .320 clip with a .653 slugging percentage and a .388 on base percentage. He ranks third on the squad with 24 hits -- including a team-high seven doubles and six home runs -- and has drive in a team-high 32 runs while scoring 15.
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.
Rott was named MAC East Division Player of the Week for a second time on Monday (May 8) after putting together another strong week at the plate to help Ohio take the series from Bowling Green last weekend. He tied for the team lead with nine hits -- including a team-high three doubles and three home runs -- and drove in a team-high 12 runs. He posted a whopping 1.105 slugging percentage to go along with a .474 batting average and a .500 on-base percentage.
LOOKING TO FINISH STRONG
A four-year starter for the Bobcats, Black is looking to finish his career at Ohio on a high note. He is fourth on the squad with 53 hits -- including nine doubles, which ranks third on the team and three home runs, which ranks fourth on the team. He is also third on the team with 28 runs scored, tied for with 17 walks, ranks fourth with a .380 slugging percentage and a .356 on-base percentage and fifth with a .276 batting average and 23 RBIs.
In conference play, Black is batting .307 with a .493 slugging percentage and a .402 on-base percentage. He has logged 23 hits in MAC play -- including six doubles (tied for second on the team), a triple and two home runs. He ranks second with 11 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
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 45 of the 46 games he's played in this year, leading the team with a .339 batting average (eighth in the MAC) and ranking third with a .389 on-base percentage and 57 hits and fifth with a .375 slugging percentage. He has hit safely in each of the last 19 games, which currently leads the team, and has tallied 16 multi-hit efforts, which ranks second on the squad. If Callery hits safely in his next game, he will match the program record of 20-straight games with a hit set by then-redshirt senior catcher Cody Gaertner in 2016. Moving into the role of starting third baseman this year, Callery has committed just six errors at the hot corner and owns a .942 fielding percentage. In conference play, Callery is batting a team-best .361 with a team-high 26 hits. Bredeson has made 24 starts in 35 games played, ranking fifth in doubles (7).
Three other Bobcats were 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 ranks fourth on the team in both RBIs (24) and runs scored (27). Defensively, he owns a .979 fielding percentage and has logged a team-high 152 assists.
Rob Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 106 games at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a MAC tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
The Bobcats have totaled 49 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.
The Bobcats are 8-4 against the Bulls in the Smith era and have taken eight of the last 10 meetings.
Ohio took two of three games from Buffalo last season. The Bobcats bounced back from a 9-3 loss in the Friday (April 8) series opener by sweeping a doubleheader on April 10, posting wins of 3-1 and 6-5. Ohio and Buffalo were scheduled to play in Amherst in 2015 but the series was moved to Butler, Pa., and the Bobcats swept the weekend with a of 6-1 (April 4) win and a pair of 5-3 doubleheader (April 5) victories. The last time Ohio visited Amherst was in 2013. The Bobcats dropped the first two games of the series by scores of 6-1 (May 3) and 8-0 (May 4) but bounced back with a 4-3 triumph in the series finale (May 5).
Buffalo has won its last two MAC weekend series, most recently taking two of three from East Division rival Miami in Oxford, Ohio, last weekend. The Bulls edged the RedHawks, 6-5, in the series opener on Saturday before splitting a Sunday doubleheader, winning the opener of the twin bill, 1-0, and then falling in the finale by a score of 5-3. Buffalo played its final road midweek game on Tuesday, dropping a high-scoring 22-15 contest to regional rival Niagara.
Ron Torgalski is wrapping up his 11th season as head coach of the Bulls.
Redshirt junior infielder Ben Haefner leads Buffalo with 55 hits and 34 runs scored and ranks second with 32 RBIs. Senior outfielder Vinny Mallaro is third in the MAC with 46 RBIs and ranks second on the team with 51 hits -- including a team-high 12 doubles and seven home runs. On the mound, junior right-handed starting pitcher Shawn Dubin leads the Bulls with 61 strikeouts over 12 starts and 60 innings of work. He is the two-time reigning MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week. In last Sunday's win over Miami in the opening game of the doubleheader, Dubin worked six innings and allowed no runs on three hits while fanning a career-high 11. In his last two starts, he's 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, seven hits allowed and 20 strikeouts over 13 innings.
Ohio closes the 2017 regular season with a three-game showdown against MAC East Division rival Kent State at Bob Wren Stadium. The series opens with a Thursday (May 18) matchup at 6 p.m. ET. The Friday (May 19) contest is scheduled to get underway at 3 p.m. ET. The Senior Day season finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET start on Saturday (May 20). '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.