ATHENS, Ohio -- Junior left fielder Evan Bourn (Overland Park, Kan.) smashed his first two home runs of the 2017 season, and redshirt junior Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) delivered a two-out, three-run, pinch-hit double in the seventh inning to break a five-all tie as the Ohio baseball team (18-19, 4-6 MAC) knocked off Mid-American Conference East Division archrival Miami (15-24, 2-8 MAC), 9-5, on Friday (April 21) in the weekend series opener at Bob Wren Stadium.
The Bobcats snapped a six-game MAC losing skid with the victory over the RedHawks.
"It feels really good," said Bredeson of the win. "We knew coming into this weekend that our end goal is Avon (site of the 2017 MAC Championship), and we knew that if we wanted to get there, we kind of had to flip the switch. It was good to see our team play the way that it played tonight."
With the score even at five-all going into the home half of the seventh inning, Ohio received some clutch two-out hitting off the bench to beat Miami. Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) got the inning going with a one-out single to right center. Freshman designated hitter Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) coaxed a walk, then senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) singled to left to load the bases with Bobcats. Rott was thrown out at the plate for the second out as junior right fielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) took first on a fielder's choice, but Bredeson entered the contest and calmly delivered a three-run double to put Ohio ahead, 8-5.
"When a team gets hot, everything starts to click," said Bredeson. "At the beginning of the year, our pitching was unbelievable and our hitting was struggling, and, as of late, it kind of flip-flopped. I think tonight, it showed that we're starting to click a little bit on all sides of the ball. If we can keep this rolling, we'll be in a really good spot."
Miami threatened in the top of the eighth after senior left fielder Tyler Harris led off with a base hit through the left side and redshirt senior third baseman Adam Yacek reached on an Ohio error to put two on with nobody out. Senior right-handed reliever Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) induced a 5-4-3 double play, though, and redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) struck out freshman second baseman Landon Stephens swinging to end the inning.
The Bobcats took advantage of some more two-out inning in the bottom of the frame to tack on another insurance run. Senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) shot a two-out double down the left field line and later scored on an RBI single to left by Piechnick.
Roehn came back out to pitch the top of the ninth and quickly got freshman right fielder Cal Elvers and sophomore catcher Hayden Senger to line out for the first two outs. After surrendering a two-out single through the right side by junior shortstop Carlos Texidor, Roehn struck out sophomore center fielder Dallas Hall swinging to end the game and nail down his career-high eighth save of the year. Roehn's career saves total now stands at 15, which ranks as the third-most in program history.
Friday's contest was a back-and-forth affair through the first four-and-a-half innings.
Miami landed the game's first punch in the top of the first inning when Harris led off with a single up the middle, advanced to second on a passed ball and tagged up and scored from third one out later on a sacrifice fly to left by Haffey.
Senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) evened the score in the bottom of the first with a leadoff home run to right field -- his team-high 10th of the year. Ibarra has homered in each of the last four games and five of the last six. He has hit five homers in the last four games and has tallied four leadoff home runs over the last six games.
The Bobcats grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second when Bourn belted his first home run of the year -- a one-out shot to center. The RedHawks tied the score in the top of the third, though, when Harris hit a leadoff home run to left.
Ohio took a 3-2 lead in the bottom half of the third. Rott sent a one-out single through the right side advanced to third on a Miami fielding error and scored one out later on a base hit to right by Giannini. Miami evened the score again in the top of the fourth, though, when Texidor drew a two-out walk and scored on a double down the left field line by Hall.
Bourn put Ohio in front again in the fourth -- this time with a leadoff home run to right. Senior shortstop Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) followed with a double to left, then scored on a double to left center by Ibarra. The RedHawks answered back by tying it at five-all in the fifth, though. Freshman designated hitter Grant Hartwig drew a two-out walk and took third on a double to down the left field line by Stephens. Both scored on a two-RBI double to left center by Elvers. Ohio was able to push away for good late in the game, though, to open the weekend with a victory.
The Bobcats continued their recent power surge with three home runs. Ohio has gone deep 17 times over the last six games and has achieved five multi-homer games during the span.
"We're really starting to swing the bat really, really well," said fifth-year head coach Rob Smith. "We've said from the beginning that we like our pitching and a our defense and if we could get our offense going, they would make a difference. Our offense has been outstanding."
Bourn led Ohio at the plate with his first three-hit effort as a Bobcat. Callery tallied three singles and scored a run. Ibarra, Black and Rott each achieved multi-hit games. Ibarra has totaled a team-high 15 multi-hit games while Black and Rott are tied for second with 12 multi-hit contests. Giannini extended his team-best hitting streak to 10 games, and he and Black have both reached base safely in a team-high 13 straight games. Bredeson has reached base in each of his last 11 games while Rott has done so in each of the last 10.
Harris went 3-for-4 with his sixth home run of the season for Miami. He drew a walk and scored two runs. Stephens finished 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Elvers doubled, singled and drove in two runs.
Rudnicki picked up the victory on the mound for the Bobcats, improving to 1-3 on the season. He struck out one while giving up three hits and two walks. Redshirt junior southpaw starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) struck out two in 4.2 frames of work. He allowed five earned runs on seven hits and four walks. Redshirt junior right-hander Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) struck out three in 1.1 innings of relief. He allowed one hit and one walk.
"One thing that I was happy to see is that our bullpen kind of came back to life," said Smith. "We've had a week or so, maybe 10 days, where those guys have gotten banged up a little bit and given up some hits and had some walk issues. Tonight, you look at Blessing, Rudnicki and what Roehn did, they really kind of shut that thing down for us, which was great to see."
Sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Shane Smith took the loss on the mound for the RedHawks, dropping to 2-2. He surrendered eight runs -- seven of which were earned -- on 14 hits and a walk. He struck out two. Senior righty Brad Schwartz gave up one earned run on two hits and a walk in 1.1 innings of relief. He fanned one.
Ohio takes aim at its second MAC series win of the season when it hosts Miami on Saturday (April 22) in a 3 p.m. ET matchup at The Wren. Saturday will celebrate 'Professors at the Park', with all Ohio faculty/staff receiving two free admissions by presenting their university IDs. Additional tickets will be $5. 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein will have the call on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.