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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (11-8) closes out its current eight-game homestand by playing host to a three-game weekend series against Butler (13-7) this weekend at Bob Wren Stadium.
The series opener is scheduled for Friday (March 24) at 6 p.m. ET. The Saturday (March 25) matchup is slated for a 3 p.m. ET start while the Sunday (March 26) series finale is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET.
The series opener marks the first Free T-Shirt Friday of the season, with the first 250 fans through the gate receiving a free t-shirt. Saturday features an ROTC pregame tailgate with free Kiser's BBQ for all Ohio ROTC members in attendance. The series concludes with Sunday Funday, featuring free admission for all fans courtesy of OhioHealth. Kids will have the opportunity to run the bases after the game. The Bobcats will also host a canned food drive on Sunday. Fans will receive a voucher for a free soft drink at the concession stand by bringing two canned food items to the game.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Ohio R-Jr. LHP #8 Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) vs. Butler Sr. LHP #11 Jeff Schank | Gametracker
Saturday: Ohio Jr. LHP #11 Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) vs. Butler Fr. RHP #13 Ryan Pepiot | Gametracker
Sunday: Ohio R-Jr. RHP #27 Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) vs. Butler Jr. LHP #24 Connor Mitchell | Gametracker
OHIO EDGED BY MOREHEAD STATE IN MIDWEEK ACTION
Despite not allowing a free base, Ohio fell to Morehead State (14-6), 3-1, on Tuesday (March 21) in a midweek matchup at Bob Wren Stadium.
Ohio's pitching staff tossed seven straight scoreless innings to keep the Bobcats in command of the contest. Redshirt sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) tossed the first two frames, allowing three hits. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) fanned five while permitting only two hits in three innings of relief. Sophomore righty Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) struck out two in a perfect sixth inning. Junior right-hander Logan Jacik (Omaha, Neb.) tallied one strikeout and gave up one hit in the seventh.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the Eagles broke through for two runs in the eighth to take the lead. Senior center fielder Ryan Kent led off with a single to left center, which set the table for a two-run home run to left by sophomore right fielder Niko Hulsizer one out later.
Senior second baseman Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) went 3-for-4 to lead Ohio's bats while sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) finished 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Black has reached base safely in a team-high 10-straight games for the Bobcats.
BOBCATS TAKE FIRST HOME WEEKEND SERIES FROM SIENA
The Bobcats achieved weekend series win over visiting Siena at The Wren last weekend, with Ohio taking two of three games from the Saints.
The Bobcats split a doubleheader last Saturday (March 18) with the Saints. Siena took the opening game, 4-2, but bounced back with a 7-4 victory in the second contest of the twin bill. In the Sunday (March 19) finale, the Bobcats logged a 6-4 triumph to clinch the weekend series win.
IBARRA NAMED MAC EAST DIVISION PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ohio baseball senior outfielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week, as announced by the league office on Monday (March 20).
Ibarra earned weekly conference honors for the first time in his Ohio career.
Ibarra put together a monster week at the plate to help Ohio secure three victories at Bob Wren Stadium. Ibarra batted .467 with a 1.133 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage over four games and 15 at-bats. He collected a team-high seven hits and homered in three of the Bobcats' four games last week. He also tallied a team-high five RBIs and six runs scored. Ibarra belted his second home run of the season last Thursday (March 16) in a 9-1 win over Shanwnee State in Ohio's 2017 home opener. He then belted a pair of home runs in a Saturday doubleheader split with Siena to bring his season total to four. Ibarra went 2-for-4 with a round tripper in game one, then crushed a two-out shot in the eighth inning of the Bobcats' triumph in the second game of the twin bill. Ibarra capped off his big weekend by helping Ohio take the weekend series from Siena with a win in the Sunday rubber match, going 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI, a walk and three runs scored.
Through 19 games in 2017, Ibarra leads the team with 14 runs scored, is tied for the team lead with 23 hits, four home runs and a .315 batting average, ranks second on the squad in slugging percentage (.507), is tied for second in RBIs (11) and ranks third in on-base percentage (.363). He is tied for the team lead with six multi-hit games and is tied for second on the squad with three multi-RBI games.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC through five weeks of the 2017 season.
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded three shutout victories in 19 games 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 right-handed pitcher Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) is 2-0 with a team-best 1.37 ERA and is second on the team with 23 strikeouts over 19.2 innings. He has given up just three earned runs on 14 hits and six walks. Junior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) sports a 2.48 ERA and a 3-0 record, fanning 22 over a team-high 29.0 innings while giving up eight earned runs on 23 hits and 10 walks. 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 this year, 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. Redshirt junior left-hander Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA. He leads the team with 28 strikeouts in 27.0 innings on the mound. He's allowed nine earned runs on 25 hits and 10 walks.
Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has made nine appearances out of the bullpen, fanning 18 in just 13.2 innings while allowing just one earned run. He has notched four saves this season, bringing his career total to 11. 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. Senior right-hander Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) is tied for the team lead with Ogg with 11 appearances out of the bullpen for the Bobcats. Senior lefty Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) owns a 1.12 ERA, making eight appearances and tallying five strikeouts over 8.0 innings. He earned his first career save in a 2-1 win over SIU Edwardsville in 13 innings on Feb. 26 in Emerson, Ga. Kamrada owns a 1.04 ERA over five appearances and 8.2 frames of work. Moving to the bullpen after spending the last three seasons as a starting pitcher, senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) is tied for third on the squad with 22 strikeouts over 13.1 innings of relief and owns an 1.35 ERA. Blessing has also performed well out of the bullpen, fanning 22 in seven appearances and 14.0 innings. He sports a 1.93 ERA.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving as the No. 3 pitcher in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein is slugging a team-best .575 with a team-best .398 on-base percentage and is tied for the team lead in batting average (.315), hits (23), doubles (5) and home runs (4). He's tallied 11 RBIs, which is tied for second on the squad. Klein is tied for the team lead with six multi-hit performances in 2017.
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).
In last Sunday's series-clinching win over Siena, Klein recorded a single and a triple while striking out eight.
THREAT TO STEAL
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) has stolen eight bases in 2017 to set a new career high.
Finkler is batting .257 with a .343 slugging percentage and a .333 on-base percentage. He is fifth on the team with 18 hits and leads the squad with 12 RBIs. Finkler is tied for the team lead with six multi-hit performances and leads the Bobcats with three multi-RBI games in 2017.
Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 95 games at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a MAC tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
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.
ROEHN SHINES IN RETURN
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.
On Feb. 13, Roehn was named to the 2017 Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List, as announced by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
RU-DY, RU-DY, RU-DY
Rott 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.
Rott currently ranks third on the team with 20 hits -- including five doubles, which is tied for the team lead. He is also tied for third on the team with 10 runs scored and is fifth with a .342 slugging percentage. He enters the weekend series with Butler having hit safely in four straight games -- including three multi-hit efforts during the span.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THEIR OPPORTUNITIES
Senior infielder Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) and redshirt junior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) are both taking advantage of increased playing time for the Bobcats in 2017.
Callery has started 17 of the 18 games he's played in this year, ranking third on the squad with a .281 batting average. Bredeson has made nine starts in 12 games played, ranking fifth on the team with a .263 batting average. His three doubles are good for third on the team.
The Bobcats and the Bulldogs met on the opening weekend of the 2017 season in Lexington, S.C. Butler posted a 15-4 win on Feb. 18, but Ohio responded with a 4-0 victory the following day. Klein, Colletti, Rudnicki and Roehn combined to toss a four-hit shutout in the win.
The Bulldogs enter the weekend having won seven of their last eight -- including a pair of midweek home victories in Indianapolis this week. Butler defeated DePauw, 8-1, on Tuesday, then topped Lewis, 7-3, the following day.
Senior infielder Michael Hartnagel is off to a strong start to the 2017 campaign for the Bulldogs, hitting .417 with a team-high 30 hits -- including a team-high nine doubles -- to go along with a team-high 15 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
Senior southpaw Jeff Schank is the ace of the Butler pitching staff, owning a 2-1 record with a 0.82 ERA and a team-high 44 strikeouts over five starts and a team-high 33.0 innings of work. Junior lefty Connor Mitchell is 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA in five appearances and four starts. Redshirt senior right-handed closer Ryan Myjak has been lights out in eight appearances out of the bullpen, tallying seven saves and not allowing a run to date.
Head coach Dave Schrage is in his first season at Butler after spending the last five seasons at South Dakota State.
Ohio makes the drive to Columbus to battle in-state rival Ohio State next Tuesday (March 28) in a 6:35 p.m. ET matchup at Bill Davis Stadium.