SPARTANSBURG, S.C. –The Ohio Baseball team will begin the 2019 season with a three-game road series at Wofford on Feb 15-17 at Russell C. King Field.
The Bobcats will open the 2019 campaign on Friday, Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. ET. Ohio will take on the Terriers at 2 p.m. on Saturday and will wrap up the series on Sunday at 1 p.m.
All games will be streamed live on the SOCON Digital Network.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS AND LINKS
FRIDAY: RHP senior Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) vs Wofford LHP Austin Higginbotham
SATURDAY: RHP Redshirt freshman Jack Liberatore (Greensburg, Pa.) vs. Wofford RHP Cameron Bloodworth
SUNDAY: RHP freshman Eamon Horwedel (Ann Arbor, Mich.) vs. Wofford LHP Hayes Heinecke
Rob Smith enters his seventh season as the head coach of the Ohio baseball program in 2019. The Bobcats have won two Mid-American Conference tournament titles and have made two NCAA Championship appearances during his time at Ohio. Ohio had made just two NCAA tournament appearance in the 43 seasons prior to the 2015 campaign.
OHIO PICKED SIXTH IN MAC
Ohio Baseball team has been selected sixth in the 2019 Mid-American Conference Baseball Preseason Poll, the league announced on Wednesday (Feb. 13). The poll was voted on by the league's 10 head coaches.
The Bobcats earned 49 votes and was selected in front of Eastern Michigan (45), Western Michigan (42), Northern Illinois (29) and Bowling Green. NIU received one vote to win the conference this season.
Selected in front of Ohio was Kent State (98), Ball State (88), Miami (78), Central Michigan (53) and Toledo (51). Kent State received eight votes to win the league, while Miami received one vote for first place.
RUDY IS BACK AND A PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN
Senior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) was named to the 2019 Collegiate Baeball All-America Third team in December. Rott was the 2018 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year, an All-MAC First Team member and made the All-MAC Defensive Team. In 2016, Rott was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.
Rott led the Bobcats in batting average (.355), slugging percentage (.654), on-base percentage (.440), hits (76), doubles (15), home runs (15), walks (30), RBIs (50) and runs scored (48) last season, setting or tying career highs in every category. He also tied for the team lead with two triples. Rott tied for the MAC lead in hits and home runs and ranked second in slugging percentage and RBIs, third in batting average and fifth in runs scored. His 140 total bases were good for a conference-high, ranked 17th in the nation and tied him for the 10th-most in a single season in Ohio history. He led Ohio with 24 multi-hit games – including a team-high eight with at least three hits – and also led the Bobcats with 15 multi-RBI games.
In conference play, Rott sported a team-best .333 batting average, a team-best .620 slugging percentage and a team-best .498 on-base percentage. He tallied a team-high 36 hits -- including a team-high eight doubles and seven home runs -- to go along with a team-high 27 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
DON'T FORGET TANNER
Ohio returns senior DH Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) to the lineup, who earned All-MAC Second Team recognition last season. Last season's honors were the first in his career. Piechnick ranked second on the team in slugging percentage (.484), doubles (12), home runs (8) and runs scored (48) behind Rott while ranking third in hits (51) and RBIs (28), setting career highs in every category. Piechnick ranked second on the squad with 15 multi-hit games
In conference play, Piechnick ranked second on the squad in batting average (.305), slugging percentage (.533), on-base percentage (.373), hits (36), doubles (7), home runs (5), RBIs (20) and runs scored (22).
MORE ON THE PROBABLE STARTERS
Senior RHP Kenny Ogg made 19 appearances last season, tossing 34.0 innings while going 1-2. Ogg had a career-low 3.97 ERA last season and struckout 17 batters during the 2018 campaign. In his career, Ogg has made 50 appearances with 28 of those coming in 2018. He was 3-1 in the 2017 campaign while tossing 42.2 innings and fanning 29 batters. Ogg's career ERA is 4.81 while his has struckout 47 batters in 78.2 innings.
Redshirt freshman Jack Liberatore will make his collegiate debut on Saturday as he redshirted the 2018 season. While in high school at Greensburg Central Catholic, he helped GCCHS win three-straight sectional titles and had a 3.60 ERA during his high school career.
Freshman Eamon Horwedel will also make his collegiate debut this weekend. While in high school at Ann Arbor Skyline, Horwedel earned All-conference and all-district honors after going 6-2 with an impressive 0.64 ERA and 69 strikeouts. He held opposing batters to a .155 batting average and tossed a no-hitter in the Michigan Division Three state championship game against Bishop Foley. Horwedel has set school records for strikeouts in a single game (13), fewest walks in a single season (5), strikeout-to-walk ratio in a single season (13.8), ERA in a single season (0.64), WHIP in a single season (0.64), opponent batting average in a single season (.155) and wins in a single season (6). Horwedel's father, Lon, is a former golfer at Ohio.
The Terriers are coming off a 36-23 season where they finished third in the Southern Conference at 15-9. Wofford's 36 wins were the second-most in program history. Four Terriers were named Preseason All-Southern Conference, with OF Colin Davis making the first team and SP Austin Higginbotham, RP Anthony Garcia and DH Lawson Hill making the second team. Wofford was selected fifth in the 2019 Preseason Coaches' Polll and fourth in the Preseason Media Poll.
WELCOME TO OHIO
Ohio is welcoming 10 to the team this season. Ohio has eight true freshman - INF Ryan Strittmather (Vermillion, Ohio), C/INF Zyon Avery (Indianapolis, Ind.), RHP Braxton Kelly (Ulysses, Ky.), LHP Joe Rock (Aliquippa, Pa.), INF Evan Fromwiller (Aurora, Ohio), INF/RHP Colin Sells (Lancaster, Ohio), INF Xavier Haendiges (Salem, Ind.) and RHP Eamon Horwedel (Ann Arbor, Mich.) Ohio has one Junior college transfer, redshirt sophomore Michael Richardson (Cambridge, Maryland/Harford Community College). The Bobcats have one transfer from a four-year school, junior INF Joe Weisenseel (Strongsville, Ohio/Penn State).
After Wofford, the Bobcats will travel across the country to face new Division I team California Baptist. The four-game series with the Lancers will begin on Friday, Feb. 22 at Totham Stadium at 9 p.m. ET.