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Rott Homers Again But Ohio Baseball Drops Series Opener To Western Michigan

Rott Homers Again But Ohio Baseball Drops Series Opener To Western Michigan

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By Mike Ashcraft

Box Score (PDF)

ATHENS, Ohio -- Junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) smacked his team-high 14th home run of the 2018 season, but the Ohio baseball team (20-28, 8-14 MAC) suffered a tough 7-6 setback to Western Michigan (21-22, 10-10 MAC) on Friday (May 11) at Bob Wren Stadium in the series opener of an important three-game Mid-American Conference set.

The Bobcats overcame a 5-2 deficit by plating a run in the sixth inning and three more in the seventh to snatch a 6-5 lead, but the Broncos answered with the tying run in the eighth and the go-ahead run in ninth to pull out the victory.

Western Michigan jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when redshirt junior designated hitter Andrew Stone hit a one-out single to left and then scored on a double to right center by junior third baseman Jimmy Roche.

Ohio went up 2-1 in home half of the third. Freshman center fielder Sebastian Fabik (Lebanon, Ohio) shot a leadoff single back up the middle to set the table for Rott's two-run home run in left. His round tripper marked his sixth homer in the last six games and also marked the third-straight game in which he has gone deep.

The Broncos retaliated, though, when junior left fielder Nate Grys smacked a one-out solo shot to center to tie it up at two-all in the fourth.

Western Michigan then took a 5-2 lead in the ensuing frame. Back-to-back two-out walks by Roche and junior catcher Jesse Forestell got things started for the Broncos. After both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, Grys delivered a two-RBI single to left center to put Western Michigan back in front. Grys then scored on a double to left center by freshman right fielder Blake Dunn to make it a three-run lead for the Broncos.

Ohio began chipping away at Western Michigan's lead in the sixth, however. Sophomore designated hitter Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) was hit by a pitch to lead things off, then advanced to second on a base hit to right center by redshirt senior right fielder Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.). After Klein stole second, Piechnick scored by way of an infield single to short by senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.).

The Bobcats then swung the momentum of the contest in their favor in the seventh. Fabik drew a one-out walk, then moved to second on a single to right by sophomore shortstop Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio). Rott sent a single to center to bring in Fabik and make it a one-run affair. Hafner then scored the tying run on a fielder's choice that put Piechnick on base safely and saw Rott advance all the way to third courtesy of a Western Michigan throwing error attempting to force him out at second. After Klein walked to load the bases, Rott scored the go-ahead run for Ohio on an RBI fielder's choice that allowed Giannini to reach safely.

Unfortunately for Ohio, the lead was short lived. Dunn beat out a leadoff bunt single, stole second and then advanced to third on a base hit to center by redshirt freshman first baseman Logan Hudson to start the eighth. Dunn then tied the game when he scored a sacrifice bunt by sophomore second baseman Drew Devine. Junior center fielder Conner Henderson then drew a walk and stole second to put two runners in scoring position with one out for Western Michigan. Redshirt senior right-handed reliever Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) limited the damage, though, by striking out junior shortstop Connor Smith and getting Stone to ground out to first to end the inning.

After the Bobcats went down in order in the home half, Western Michigan took the lead back in the top of the ninth as Grys coaxed a two-out walk, stole second and then scored on a base hit through the right side by Dunn. 

Dunn was caught stealing to end the top of the ninth, and Ohio had a runner on with one out in the bottom half when Rott reached on a fielding error by the Broncos, but Ohio was unable to drive him in as redshirt senior right-handed closer Jimmy Townsend-Chase closed out the win for Western Michigan.

Dunn led the Broncos at the plate with a 5-for-5 performance that included a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Grys finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, a walk, three RBIs and three runs scored. Stone finished with two singles and a run scored.

Rott finished 2-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored. The contest marked his team-high 23rd multi-hit game of the season and team-high 14th multi-RBI game of the year. Junior left fielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) went 2-for-4 with a double.

Redshirt senior right-handed reliever Andrew Reisinger picked up the win on the mound for Western Michigan, improving to 8-1 on the year. He struck out one while giving up just one walk in two scoreless frames. Towsend-Chase earned his seventh save of the year, helping the Broncos pick up the final two outs in the ninth.

Roehn was saddled with the loss on the mound for the Bobcats, falling to 1-5 on the season. He struck out one while giving up one earned run on one hit and two walks over 1.2 innings of work.

Ohio will look the even the weekend series when it meets Western Michigan again on Saturday (May 12) for a 3 p.m. ET matchup at The Wren. Klein is scheduled to make the start on the mound for the Bobcats and oppose senior right-hander Jacob Piechota of the Broncos. Max McDulin will have the call of the action on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet. The contests will also be streamed live by OhioBobcatTV via YouTube. Fans planning to attend Friday Saturday's game are advised to be prepared for heavy traffic and limited parking near Bob Wren Stadium as Ohio University's medical college graduation ceremonies are slated to be held at the Convocation Center.