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Game Notes (PDF): Ohio | Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 4 regionally-seeded Ohio baseball team (31-26) opens 2017 NCAA Championship play by taking on No. 1 regionally-seeded Kentucky (39-20) on Friday (June 2) in the opening contest of the Lexington Regional at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Ky. First pitch is scheduled for 12:04 p.m. ET.
Friday's contest will be nationally televised on ESPNU and broadcast live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN, with Anish Shroff and Jay Walker on the call. 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein will have the call of the action on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
Friday: Ohio R-Jr. RHP #27 Michael Klein vs. Kentucky TBD | Live Stats
Ohio and Kentucky are joined in the double-elimination regional by No. 2 regionally-seeded Indiana (33-22) and No. 3 regionally-seeded North Carolina State (34-23), who will face off at 7 p.m. ET on Friday. The winners of Friday's games will square off on Saturday (June 3) at 12:04 p.m. ET. The losers of Friday's games will play an elimination game at 12:04 p.m. ET on Saturday. The survivor of the elimination game will play the loser of the winner's bracket game on Sunday (June 4) at 1:04 p.m. ET. The winner of that contest will play the winner of Saturday night's game at 7:04 p.m. ET on Sunday for the regional title. If necessary, a winner-take-all second regional title game will be played on Monday (June 5) at 7:04 p.m. ET.
The Bobcats have never faced Kentucky, Indiana or North Carolina State in NCAA Championship play.
The 2017 NCAA Championship consists of 16 four-team, double elimination Regionals, held at campus sites across the nation next weekend (June 2-5). The 16 regional host sites will be announced on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET. The 16 Regional champions advance to the NCAA Super Regionals, which will be held at campus sites the following weekend (June 9-12). The eight Super Regional champions punch tickets to Omaha, Neb., and the 2017 NCAA College World Series, which will be held June 17-27/28 at TD Ameritrade Park. The CWS is made up of two four-team, double-elimination brackets. The survivors of the brackets play a best-of-three games national championship series to decide the NCAA champion.
Ohio will be making its 16th NCAA Championship appearance and second in the last three years. The Bobcats are 17-28 (.378) all-time in national postseason play. The Bobcats went 0-2 at the NCAA Championship Champaign Regional in Champaign, Ill., in 2015, falling to No. 6 national seed Illinois, 10-3, and Wright State, 8-3. Ohio earned its lone trip to the NCAA College World Series in 1970, going 2-2. The Bobcats swept through District 4 play, beating Minnesota, 6-4, then topping Southern Illinois twice by scores of 7-0 and 8-5 to punch a ticket to the CWS. At the College World Series, Ohio went 2-2, beating Southern California, 4-1, falling to Texas, 7-2 and defeating Iowa State, 9-6, before being eliminated by Florida State, 2-0.
OHIO WINS 2017 MAC CHAMPIONSHIP CROWN
Ohio drew the 2017 NCAA Championship Lexington Regional as the Mid-American Conference's automatic bid.
Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Rob Smith, No. 5-seeded Ohio capped an improbable league postseason run by defeating No. 3-seeded Eastern Michigan, 7-4, to clinch the 2017 MAC Championship title on Sunday (May 28) at Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio. Ohio earned its third MAC tournament title (1997, 2015, '17) with the victory. The Bobcats have won eight-straight MAC tournament games dating back to its 4-0 championship run in 2015. Ohio opened 2017 MAC Championship play by beating No. 4-seeded Ball State, 4-3, last Wednesday (May 24). The Bobcats then advanced to the winner's bracket final thanks to a late-night 5-3 win over No. 1-seeded Kent State last Thursday (May 25). Ohio eliminated the Golden Flashes with a 7-2 victory last Saturday (May 27), marking the fourth time in five tries the Bobcats emerged victorious over the MAC regular season champion Golden Flashes in 2017.
The Bobcats placed five players on the 2017 All-MAC Championship Team -- senior outfielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins Colo.), senior infielder Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio), senior catcher Anthony Mrosla (Coon Rapids, Minn.), redshirt junior designated hitter/right-handed pitcher Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and senior right-handed starting pitcher Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.). Ibarra garnered Most Valuable Player distinction, joining outfielder Bart Leahy (1997) and right-handed pitcher Logan Cozart (2015) as the only players in Ohio's history to earn such honors. Ibarra hit .368 with seven hits, two RBIs and three runs scored over four games. Black collected four hits -- including two doubles and his huge home run. Mrosla hit .400 with four hits -- including a pair of doubles. Klein batted .357 with five hits, three RBIs and four runs scored. He also started on the mound in Thursday night's win over Kent State, striking out four over five innings. Colletti twirled a complete-game three-hitter with a career-high nine strikeouts in Saturday's victory over the Golden Flashes in the bracket final.
Ohio will enter the NCAA Championship as winners of nine of its last 10 games.
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.
A 2017 First Team All-MAC selection, Roehn has made a team-high 29 appearances out of the bullpen in 2017, sporting a 4-4 record with a 2.34 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 42.1 innings of work. He has allowed just 11 earned runs on 39 hits and 13 walks.
Roehn earned his program-record 15th save of the year in the MAC title game victory over Eastern Michigan, which currently ranks fourth in the country. His career saves total now stands at 22, which is tied with Chad Reed (1989-92) for the most in program history. Roehn picked up two saves in three conference tournament appearances last week. He struck out eight while allowing just one earned run on five hits over four innings of work.
In MAC play, Roehn sported a 2.04 ERA with seven saves and struck out 13 while giving up just four earned runs on 17 hits and four walks over 17.2 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 PUTS TOGETHER STRONG SENIOR CAMPAIGN
Through 56 games in 2017, Ibarra leads the Bobcats with a .330 batting average, a .557 slugging percentage (fourth-best in the MAC), a .405 on-base percentage, 76 hits (third in the MAC), 12 home runs (third in the MAC) and 45 runs scored. The 2017 First Team All-MAC and All-MAC Defensive Team selection is also tied for the team lead with 14 doubles and ranks second on the squad with 38 RBIs. He has tallied a team-high 23 multi-hit games and has totaled 10 multi-RBI contests, which also leads the team.
In MAC play, Ibarra hit .333 with 31 hits (second on the team) -- including a team-high nine doubles and four home runs -- to go along with 14 RBIs and 21 runs scored (second on the team).
Ibarra was 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 0.980 team fielding percentage ranks 12th in the nation entering this weekend's regional. The Bobcats have committed just 43 errors in 57 games.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC in 2017. The Bobcats own a 4.29 team ERA, which is second-best in the league. Ohio also ranks second in walks allowed per nine innings (4.04), third in strikeouts per nine innings (8.3) and fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (8.95). The Bobcats' pitching staff has logged a program-record 472 strikeouts, breaking the previous mark of 420 set in 2003.
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded five 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. Redshirt junior left-hander Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) is the ace of the staff, leading Ohio in innings pitched (88.2) and strikeouts (71) while ranking third in both ERA (4.36) and opponent batting average (.258). He sports a 4-3 record over 16 starts. Klein is 5-2 with a team-best 3.27 ERA and is third in both innings pitched (63.1) and strikeouts (57). He has given up just 23 earned runs and 26 walks and ranks second on the team in opponent batting average (.246). A First Team All-MAC selection, he went 3-1 in conference play with a 2.94 ERA and 26 strikeouts while giving up just 11 earned runs on 30 hits and 16 walks over six starts and 33.2 innings pitched. Klein garnered MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week honors for the first time in his career on May 22. He earned the win on the mound in the May 19 series-clinching 8-5 victory over Kent State 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. He helped his cause by belting a three-run homer to left in the fifth. He went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. In the 7-6 win in the May 18 series opener, Klein went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. He walked and scored a run in the Sunday regular season finale. Colletti has made 26 appearances on the mound (third on the team) with five starts, notching 55 strikeouts (fourth on the team) in 60.1 innings of work (fourth on the team). He was named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week for the first time in his career on May 15 after putting together a masterful performance to help Ohio secure a 3-0 shutout of MAC East Division rival Buffalo on Sunday May 14 at Audubon Field in Amherst, N.Y. Colletti tossed six scoreless frames in the shutout, fanning six while allowing just three hits and two walks en route to earning the win on the mound. Junior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) sports a 4-3 record, fanning 59 batters over 66.1 innings, both of which 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.
Moving to the bullpen after spending the last three seasons as a starting pitcher, senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) tied for is fifth on the squad with 52 strikeouts over 39.2 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. Redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) has fanned 52 in 24 appearances and 40.2 innings, tying for fifth on the team in strikeouts with Rudnicki. Senior southpaw Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) has made 24 relief appearances and sports a 2.74 ERA with 17 strikeouts over 23.0 innings. Sophomore right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) is tied with Colletti for second on the team with 27 appearances on the mound. He's fanned 28 over 41.2 innings of relief.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving one of the three arms in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein has played in 51 total games with 50 starts, ranking second on the squad in slugging percentage (.500), third in batting average (.304), RBIs (37) and home runs (8) and fourth in on-base percentage (.367), hits (62), doubles (10) and runs scored (35). His 15 multi-hit games rank fifth on the team while his nine contests with multiple RBIs is tied for second-most 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
Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) 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 57 games in 2017, Rott leads the leads the Bobcats in RBIs (47) and walks (24), is tied for the team lead in doubles (14), ranks second in on-base percentage (.386), hits (67), home runs (10) and runs scored (37) and ranks third in slugging percentage (.489) and fourth in batting average (.295). He is tied for second on the team with 19 multi-hit games and nine multi-RBI games.
In MAC play, Rott hit at a .303 clip with a .556 slugging percentage and a .381 on base percentage. He ranked third on the squad with 30 hits -- including a team-high six home runs as well as seven doubles, which ranked second -- and drove in a team-high 33 runs while scoring 18, which ranked third. Rott was named to the 2017 All-MAC Defensive Team. He owns a .992 fielding percentage and leads the team with 471 putouts.
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 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 fifth on the squad with 61 hits -- including 11 doubles, which is third on the team. He is also second with 23 walks, third with 36 runs scored and fifth with 27 RBIs and four home runs. Black ranks fourth on the squad with 17 multi-hit games and has reached base in a team season-high 33-straight games.
In conference play, Black batted .278 with a .423 slugging percentage and a .386 on-base percentage. He logged 27 hits in MAC play -- including six doubles (third on the team), a triple and two home runs. He led the squad with 22 runs scored and tallied 11 RBIs.
Black is Ohio's lone returning starting position player from the 2015 NCAA Champaign Regional squad.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THEIR OPPORTUNITIES
Senior infielder Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.), redshirt junior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and junior outfielder/infielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) are taking advantage of increased playing time for the Bobcats in 2017.
A 2017 Second Team All-MAC pick, Callery has started 55 of the 56 games he's played in this year, ranking second on the team with a .313 batting average. He also ranks third with 66 hits and fifth with a .364 on-base percentage. He achieved a program-record 21-game hitting streak this season, breaking the previous 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 eight errors at the hot corner and owns a .935 fielding percentage. In conference play, Callery batted a team-best .337 with a team-high 33 hits.
Bredeson has made 26 starts in 38 games played, ranking fifth in both batting average (.377) and doubles (8).
Giannini has started 44 of the 48 games he's played in, hitting .253 with 43 hits -- including seven doubles and a home run -- to go along with 13 RBIs and 20 runs scored. In conference play, Giannini hit .293 with 27 hits.
Three other Bobcats were called upon to step up in the absence of other players due to injuries. Mrosla has hit .273 with 24 hits over 33 games -- including 27 starts. Junior outfielder Evan Bourn (Overland Park, Kan.) started 13 of 17 MAC games, batting .327 with 16 hits -- including two home runs. Freshman catcher Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) started five of the 12 MAC contests he played in, batting .393 with 11 hits -- including three doubles.
FINKLER 2017 MAC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) earned 2017 MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors, becoming the first Bobcat to earn such distinction. He owns a .965 fielding percentage and has logged a team-high 179 assists.
Through 57 games in 2017, Finkler ranks fourth on the team in runs scored (32), RBIs (30), home runs (5) and walks (21). He also ranks fifth with 34 runs scored. He has stolen 18 bases in 20 attempts in 2017 to set a new career high.
Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 115 games at Ohio and has now led the Bobcats to MAC tournament titles and NCAA Championship berths in both 2015 and '17.
The Bobcats have totaled 54 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.
Ohio is 1-1 all-time against Kentucky in the Smith era. The Bobcats fell to the Wildcats, 6-3, on March 12, 2013, but produced a victory in their last visit to Lexington -- a 10-7 triumph on March 17, 2015. Ohio is 7-9 (.438) all-time against Kentucky.
The Wildcats are led by first-year head coach Nick Mingione -- the 2017 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. He has guided Kentucky to a 39-20 mark -- including a 19-11 record in conference play, which represented the second-most SEC wins in program history. Kentucky went 1-2 in the 2017 SEC Tournament, defeating South Carolina, 7-2, last Wednesday before falling to No. 6-ranked LSU (10-0; May 25) and South Carolina (3-1; May 26). The Wildcats enter the 2017 NCAA Lexington Regional ranked eighth in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll and 10th in the D1Baseball.com poll.
Kentucky's pitching staff features sophomore right-handed pitcher Sean Hjelle, who earned 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Year honors after going 9-3 with a 3.87 ERA and 91 strikeouts over 15 starts and 93.0 innings of work. Senior southpaw Logan Salow joined Hjelle on the All-SEC First Team after tallying 10 saves. He has fanned 64 while permitting just nine earned runs on 32 hits and nine walks over 27 appearances and 47.0 innings.
Sophomore outfielder Tristan Pompey was a 2017 First Team All-SEC pick after leading the Wildcats with a .369 batting average and 87 hits -- including 16 doubles and nine home runs. Junior first baseman/outfielder Evan White leads Kentucky with 23 doubles and received Second Team All-SEC recognition. Junior infielder Riley Mahan is Kentucky's top power hitter with a team-high 14 home runs and 56 RBIs. He was named to the All-SEC Second Team for his efforts. Joining White and Mahan on the All-SEC Second Team is redshirt junior infielder/catcher Troy Squires, who is batting .310 with 44 hits -- including 10 doubles.
Kentucky is hosting a regional for the first time since 2006. The Wildcats have advanced to the regional final in each of their last four appearances in 2006, '08, '12 and '14.