NILES, Ohio -- Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) lifted the Ohio baseball team (16-15) to a 6-5 win over host Youngstown State (8-21) with a squeeze bunt in the top of the eighth inning on Tuesday (April 11) at Eastwood Field.
The Bobcats improved to 7-3 on the road in 2017 and came away victorious at Youngstown State for the second time in the last three seasons.
Ohio broke a five-all deadlock in the top half of the eighth thanks to Finkler's bunt. Junior right fielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) led off the inning by drawing a walk. He then stole second and advanced to third on a fielding error by the Penguins that put redshirt freshman left fielder Ryan Sargent (Algonquin, Ill.) on base. After Youngstown State lifted junior right-handed pitcher Alex Bellardini from the game in favor of senior southpaw Joe King, Finkler laid down a perfectly placed bunt back toward the mound that allowed Giannini to score the go-ahead run.
Redshirt junior right-hander Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) tossed a scoreless home half of the eighth, then redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) came on in the ninth and struck out two in a scoreless frame to nail down the win and pick up his seventh save, matching his career high and bringing his career saves total to 14, which ranks as the third-most in program history.
The Bobcats held a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third inning. Ohio plated its first two runs in the second. Senior third baseman Connor Callery (Convington, Ky.) and Giannini led off with back-to-back singles and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Sargent. Senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) plated both with a double to center. The Bobcats added three more runs on three hits and a Youngstown State error in the ensuing frame. Redshirt junior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) coaxed a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a base hit through the left side by senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio), stole third and then scored on a throwing error by the Penguins. After sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) drew a walk, an infield single by Callery allowed Black to score. Rott then advanced to third on an infield single by Giannini and scored on an RBI ground out by Sargent.
The Penguins battled back by plating five runs of their own over the third and fourth innings to tie the game. Senior third baseman Nico Padovan drew a one-out walk in the third, then advanced to third when junior left fielder Anthony Rohan reached on a fielder's choice and an error. After Rohan moved to second base on a passed ball, both he and Padovan scored on a two-RBI single to center by senior shortstop Shane Willoughby. Youngstown State then tied the game up in the fourth when sophomore right fielder Kyle Benyo belted a three-run home run with one out after junior center fielder Trey Bridis led off with a single and freshman catcher Tanner Montgomery was hit by a pitch.
Senior right-handed reliever Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) entered from the bullpen in the sixth and threw two scoreless innings, striking out two while allowing just two hits to give Ohio a chance to win the game. He picked up the victory on the mound, improving to 2-1 on the year.
Giannini led the Bobcats at the plate with a 2-for-3 effort that included a walk and two runs scored. Rott went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Callery tallied two hits, drove in a run and scored another.
Bellardini took the pitching loss for Youngstown State, dropping to 2-1 on the season.
Ohio plays its second midweek game in as many days when it visits Huntington, W. Va., on Wednesday (April 12) to square off against longtime rival Marshall (16-15) in a 3 p.m. ET contest at Kennedy Center Field.