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@Ohio_Baseball Releases 2017 Schedule

@Ohio_Baseball Releases 2017 Schedule

Dec. 2, 2016

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2017 Ohio Baseball Schedule

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball program unveiled its 54-game 2017 schedule, as announced by fifth-year head coach Rob Smith on Friday (Dec. 2).

The 2017 slate features 21 home games at Bob Wren Stadium -- including battles with longtime rival Marshall and in-state rival Dayton -- as well as 24 Mid-American Conference contests.

"I'm excited about our schedule," said Smith. "It's a little bit unique. We open up with two neutral-site scenarios. It'll be good to play like-opponents early at a neutral site. I think that'll give us a good chance to utilize as many guys as we can."

The Bobcats embark on the new season by playing 17-straight games away from Athens. Ohio will take on both La Salle (Feb. 17-18) and Butler (Feb. 18-19) in Lexington, S.C. to open the new year. Ohio will then play four games against SIU Edwardsville (Feb. 24-26) and one against Alabama State (Feb. 28) in at Perfect Game's LakePoint facility in Emerson, Ga. The Hornets are coming off a 2016 campaign in which they went 38-15 and earned the Southwestern Athletic Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

Ohio will play its first true road series of the 2017 season when it travels to Bowling Green, Ky., to battle Western Kentucky (March 3-5). The Bobcats then return to the state of Ohio to visit Dayton (March 10) and Wright State (March 11) in addition to playing Western Illinois (March 12) in a neutral-site matchup in Dayton. The Raiders won the Horizon League title for the second year in a row in 2016 and advanced all the way to the NCAA Louisville Regional Final after eliminating both MAC tournament champion Western Michigan and Big Ten Conference at-large bid Ohio State.

Ohio's season-opening road tour concludes with a visit to Huntington, W. Va., to take on Marshall (March 14) in the first of three contests between the Bobcats and the Thundering Herd in 2017. The squads are also scheduled to square off on April 19 at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio, and on May 9 in Athens.

After visiting Marshall, Ohio will play seven-straight games at Bob Wren, beginning with a doubleheader against Siena on March 18 to open the home portion of the schedule. After taking on the Saints again on March 19, the Bobcats will play host to Morehead State (March 21) and Butler (March 24-26).

The Bobcats will then make the short drive to Columbus to square off with in-state rival Ohio State (March 28). The Buckeyes qualified for national postseason play for the first time since 2009 last season.

"We'll actually be in our general vicinity for a good portion of our early schedule, and I think that's going to be exciting for us," said Smith. "As far as the teams that we're playing, I think they're going to be representative of the types of teams that we've got to be able to compete with within our league."

Other non-conference matchups for Ohio in 2016 include hosting Dayton (April 4) and visiting Youngstown State (April 11) and Morehead State (May 2).

The Bobcats begin their 2017 MAC season with a visit to Muncie, Ind., to take on Ball State (March 31-April 2). Ohio is also scheduled to visit Eastern Michigan (April 14-16), Western Michigan (April 28-30) and Buffalo (May 12-14).

Ohio's 2017 conference home schedule includes series against Central Michigan (April 7-9), Miami (April 21-23), Bowling Green (May 5-7) and defending MAC regular season champion Kent State (May 18-20).

The 2017 MAC Championship will be held May 24-28 at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio. The winner receives the league's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Championship.

"I think it's going to be very competitive," said Smith of the race of a conference championship in 2017. "Kent State's going to be very strong as always, but they've lost some good players. Ball State, same thing. They're going to be a strong club, but they did lose some key guys. I think it'll be interesting to see the emergence of a couple of other programs. Eastern Michigan is definitely making some strides, and so they're going to be interesting to watch. Northern Illinois made some strides last year as they got better throughout the course of the season. I think the parity in our league is going to be as good as it has ever been. I think it's growing be that way. If you look at the tournament the last few years, you've seen some teams emerge. It'll be fun to watch that process unfold again this year, and we're excited to tackle that."

NCAA Championship Regionals are scheduled for June 2-5 with Super Regionals being held June 9-12. The 2017 NCAA College World Series is slated to run June 17-28 from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Neb.

Ohio returns 26 players from 2016's 23-win team, including senior infielder Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio), senior right-handed pitcher Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) and sophomore infielder/catcher Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.), who was named to the 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American Team as a first baseman as selected by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. The Bobcats welcome 11 new faces to their 2017 roster.

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