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@Ohio_Baseball Uses Big Fifth Inning To Beat Kent State, Clinch @MACSports Weekend Series

Senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) has now reached base in a team season-high 28 straight games after drawing two walks to help the Ohio baseball team record an 8-5 victory over MAC East Division rival Kent State that clinched the weekend series on Saturday (May 19) at Bob Wren Stadium.
May 19, 2017

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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (27-25, 13-10 MAC) exploded for seven runs on seven hits in the bottom of the fifth inning en route to an 8-5 victory over Mid-American Conference East Division rival Kent State (34-16, 17-6 MAC) that clinched the weekend series on Saturday (May 19) at Bob Wren Stadium.

The Bobcats took a MAC weekend series from the Golden Flashes at home for the first time since 1997. Ohio opened the weekend series with a 7-6 victory in the Friday (May 18) opener.

"We told ourselves coming into the weekend that even though we'd already qualified for the (MAC) tournament, this series was going to be a bench mark about where we were at," said fifth-year head coach Rob Smith. "I believe this team is good enough to win the conference tournament, but, to do that, you've got to beat teams like Kent State. You've got to beat their better arms, and we've done that now in back-to-back days. That's got to give us some confidence going into the tournament that whoever that we face at whatever juncture, we're going to be able to handle them."

Ohio has now won five league games in a row and has come away victorious in 10 of its last 14 contests. The Bobcats earned their fifth MAC series win of the 2017 season and third in a row.

The Golden Flashes took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when redshirt junior left fielder Nick Kanavas hit a two-out single down the left field line, stole second and scored on a base hit back up the middle by senior second baseman Dom Iero.

Kent State sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Joey Murray limited Ohio to just one hit and two walks over the first four frames and got the bottom of the fifth started by tallying a pair strikeouts. The entire tide of the game changed after that, though. Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) got the big inning going for the Bobcats by coaxing a walk. Senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) moved Finkler to third with a single through the right side. Finkler then scored the tying run when senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) reached on a fielding error. Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) gave Ohio a 2-1 lead when he plated Ibarra with a single to right. Redshirt junior right-handed starting pitcher Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) helped his cause by belting his seventh home run of the year -- a three-run homer to left. Kent State opted to lift Murray in favor of sophomore southpaw reliever Connor Wollersheim, but the Bobcats kept coming. Senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) beat out an infield single to first, then moved up to second on a passed ball. Junior right fielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) gave Ohio runners on the corners after legging out a single to short. Junior left fielder Evan Bourn (Overland Park, Kan.) capitalized on the opportunity by driving in Callery with a base hit down the left field line. Redshirt junior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) made it 7-1 in favor of Ohio with a single up the middle that brought home Giannini.

"Momentum's a crazy thing in baseball," said Smith of his team's two-out explosion. "Sometimes, when you just get things going, each guy passes it on to the next, and, you look up, and you've got a seven-run inning. Their pitcher is outstanding. Murray, you could argue he's maybe the best in the league. Sometimes, you've just got to hang in there and stick to it, and, eventually, he'll break, and he did.

The Bobcats tacked on an eighth run in the sixth. Black drew a one-out walk, advanced to third one out later on a single up the middle by Klein and then scored by way of an infield single to second by Callery.

Kent State plated two more runs in the eighth when sophomore catcher Pete Schuler drew a leadoff walk to set up a pinch-hit, two-run home run to right center by freshman Patrick Ferguson, cutting Ohio's lead to 8-3. Senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) came on to pitch for the Bobcats following the home run by the Golden Flashes, though, and proceeded to retire the side.

The Golden Flashes made it a three-run ballgame in the ninth when senior third baseman Sam Hurt hit a leadoff infield single to third and scored two outs later when junior first baseman Dylan Rosa homered to left center. Ohio redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) got Schuler to fly out to left, though, to end the game.

Ohio posted double-digit hits for the 23rd time this year. Klein recorded his 14th multi-hit game and eighth multi-RBI game by going 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. Bredeson finished 2-for-3 for his 10th multi-hit game of the season. Callery recorded a pair of singles for his 19th multi-hit game while Bourn tallied two base hits for his eighth multi-hit effort. Black did not record a hit but drew two walks, marking the 28th game in a row he has reached base -- a team season high.

Klein earned the win on the mound to improve to 5-2 on the season. He struck out four while allowing one earned run on five hits and two walks over five innings of work. Klein, Rudnicki, Roehn and sophomore right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) combined to strike out eight Kent State batters, giving Ohio's pitching staff a new program record with 425 strikeouts on the year. The previous mark of 420 was set by the 2003 squad.

Murray dropped to 6-1 on the year, He fanned nine but gave up five unearned runs on four hits and three walks. Wollersheim surrendered three runs -- one of which was earned on eight hits and two walks while striking out six.

Iero accounted Kent State's lone multi-effort of the contest, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

Ohio goes for its second-straight MAC series sweep and third of the year when it closes the 2017 regular season with a 1 p.m. ET Senior Day showdown against Kent State at The Wren. The Bobcats will send senior right-hander Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) to the mound. 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein will have the call on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.