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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (11-11) will make the drive to Columbus to square off against in-state rival Ohio State (9-14) on Tuesday (March 28). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. ET at Bill Davis Stadium. The contest will be streamed live on Big Ten Network Plus (subscription required).
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Tuesday: Ohio TBD vs. Ohio State TBD | Gametracker
BOBCATS LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK
The Bobcats enter Tuesday's matchup with the Buckeyes having lost four in a row to close out an eight-game homestand at Bob Wren Stadium. Ohio dropped a 3-1 decision to Morehead State last Tuesday (March 21), then came out on the short of three-straight one-run games in a weekend series loss to Butler. After falling to the Bulldogs by a score of 4-3 in 11 innings last Friday (March 24), the Bobcats lost both games of a Saturday (March 25) doubleheader by scores of 7-6 and 5-4.
Senior infielder Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) led Ohio's bats last week, batting a team-best .438 with a team-high seven hits.
IBARRA OFF TO STRONG START
Through 22 games in 2017, senior outfielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) leads the team with 14 runs scored, ranks second with 25 hits and a .453 slugging percentage, is tied for second with 12 RBIs, ranks third with a .291 batting average and ranks fifth with a .333 on-base percentage.
Ibarra was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week on March 20. He earned weekly conference honors for the first time in his Ohio career after putting together a monster week (March 16-19) 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. He also tallied a team-high five RBIs and six runs scored.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC through six weeks of the 2017 season.
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded three shutout victories in 22 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 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA and is tied for second on the team with 27 strikeouts over 24.2 innings. He has given up just six earned runs and six walks. Junior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) sports a 2.75 ERA and a 3-0 record, fanning 27 over a team-high 36.0 innings. 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 3.27 ERA. He leads the team with 32 strikeouts in 33.0 innings on the mound.
Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has made 10 appearances out of the bullpen, fanning 20 in just 15.2 innings while allowing just three 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. Redshirt sophomore righty Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) 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 fourth on the squad with 23 strikeouts over 15.1 innings of relief and owns an 1.17 ERA. Redshirt junior right-hander Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) 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 .517 and is tied for the team lead in batting average (.299) while leading the squad hits (26) and RBIs (13) and tying for the team lead in doubles (5) and home runs (4). He also ranks second with a .371 on-base percentage.
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).
THREAT TO STEAL
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) has stolen nine bases in 2017 to set a new career high.
Finkler is second on the team in runs scored (13), tied for second in RBIs (12) and ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.325).
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 fourth on the team with 22 hits -- including five doubles, which is tied for the team lead. He is also tied for third on the team with 11 runs scored and is third in on-base percentage (.360), fourth in batting average (.262) and fifth in slugging percentage (.321). He enters Tuesday's contest having reached base safely in a team-high 10-straight games.
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 20 of the 21 games he's played in this year, tying for the team lead with a .299 batting average. Bredeson has made 11 starts in 15 games played, ranking third on the team in slugging percentage (.347) and fourth in on-base percentage (.339) and RBIs (10). His three doubles are good for third on the team.
SCOUTING OHIO STATE
The Bobcats and the Buckeyes are set to square off for the fourth year in a row. Ohio State came away with a 6-3 win over Ohio on March 29, 2016, at Bob Wren Stadium in the last meeting between the two squads.
Ohio State suffered a sweep at the hands of Minnesota on the opening weekend of Big Ten Conference play in Columbus. The Buckeyes lost the series opener, 5-2, last Friday, then suffered defeats of 15-5 and 6-5 in a Saturday doubleheader.
Greg Beals is in his seventh season as head coach of the Buckeyes. Last season, the Buckeyes won the Big Ten Tournament title en route to an appearance in the 2016 NCAA Louisville Regional.
Junior outfielder Tre' Gantt boasts a team-best .329 batting average and has tallied a team-high 28 hits -- including six doubles. Senior catcher/infielder Jalen Washington has drive in a team-high 21 runs while junior infielder/outfielder Noah McGowan has belted a team-high five home runs.
Junior right-handed pitcher Seth Kinker is Ohio State's top arm, sporting a 1-0 record with a 2.57 ERA over a team-high 11 appearances out of the bullpen. He has fanned 21 while allowing just six earned runs and six walks. Kinker has collected two saves.
Ohio opens MAC play this weekend with a trip to Muncie, Ind., to battle West Division foe Ball State. The series opener is scheduled for Friday (March 31) at 3 p.m. ET. Both the Saturday (April 1) and Sunday (April 2) contests are scheduled for 1 p.m. ET first pitches. 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein will have the call of all three games on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.