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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (16-19) squares off against Marshall (18-17) for the second time in as many weeks as the two longtime rivals play a neutral-site matchup on Wednesday (April 19) at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.
Prasco Park, which opened on June 19, 2008, is one of the premier amateur baseball destinations in America and serves as the home of the Cincinnati Spikes, a Cincinnati-based amateur baseball team.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
Wednesday: Ohio TBD vs. Marshall TBD | Gametracker
BOBCATS SUFFER SWEEP AT EASTERN MICHIGAN
Ohio has now dropped six-straight Mid-American Conference games after suffering a sweep at the hands of West Division foe Eastern Michigan last weekend at Oestrike Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The Bobcats fell to the Eagles, 8-2, last Friday (April 14) in the series opener. Eastern Michigan then tallied a 12-9 triumph on Saturday (April 15) to secure the series win, then swept the weekend with a 12-11 walk-off win on Sunday (April 16).
IBARRA OFF TO STRONG START
Through 35 games in 2017, Ibarra leads the Bobcats with a .319 batting average, a .529 slugging percentage, a .389 on-base percentage, 44 hits, seven home runs and 26 runs scored. He is also tied for the team lead with 12 walks. Ibarra is tied for second on the squad with six doubles and ranks second with 22 RBIs. He leads the team with 13 multi-hit games.
Ibarra has been named MAC East Division Player of the Week twice in 2017, with his most recent honor coming on April 4. He helped Ohio start MAC play 3-0 for the first time since 1997 with his effort at the plate, leading the Bobcats in batting average (.462), slugging percentage (.615), hits (6), doubles (2) and runs scored (4). He also drove in three runs. Ibarra opened the week by going 3-for-4 in a 3-0 loss at Ohio State on March 28 in Columbus. He then went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored in the 6-4 win over Ball State in the opening game of a doubleheader on April 1. Ibarra finished the series by going 1-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in a 7-4 win in the second game of the twin bill, then going 1-for-2 with a pair of stolen bases in the 10-0 blowout of the Cardinals in the finale on April 2 that clinched the series sweep for the Bobcats.
Ohio's 0.984 team fielding percentage ranks third in the nation entering Wednesday's game. The Bobcats have committed just 21 errors in 35 games.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC in 2017. The Bobcats own a 4.20 ERA, which ranks third in the league. Ohio also leads the MAC in his allowed per nine innings (8.51) and ranks second in walks allowed per nine innings (4.23) and third in strikeouts per nine innings (8.20).
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded four shutout victories in 35 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 righty Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) is 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA (second-best in the MAC) and is third on the team lead with 40 strikeouts over 43.2 innings. He has given up just 13 earned runs and 15 walks. Junior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) sports a 4-1 record, fanning 41 over a team-high 48.2 innings to rank second on the squad in both strikeouts and innings pitched. 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, 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) leads the team with 42 strikeouts and has thrown a team-high 49.0 innings on the mound.
Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has made 16 appearances out of the bullpen, fanning 25 in 23.2 innings while allowing just four earned runs. He leads the MAC with seven saves in 2017, which matches his career high and brings his career total to 14, which ranks as the third-most in program history. He 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 right-hander Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) owns a 0.59 ERA over 10 appearances and 15.1 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 36 strikeouts over 25.1 innings of relief. Redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) has fanned 34 in 13 appearances and 26.2 innings. He sports a 3.04 ERA, and he is fifth on the team in strikeouts. Senior southpaw Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) has made 16 relief appearances and sports a 3.45 ERA. Senior righty Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) leads the team with a MAC-high 19 appearances out of the bullpen while sophomore right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) ranks second with 17. Colletti has a 3.67 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 27.0 innings of work.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving as the No. 3 pitcher in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein is tied for the team lead with 12 walks and is tied for second on the team in hits (40) and doubles (6) while ranking third in slugging percentage (.420), home runs (4), RBIs (20) and runs scored (21).
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).
RU-DY, RU-DY, RU-DY
Sophomore infielder Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) 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.
Through 35 games in 2017, Rott leads the leads the Bobcats with 28 RBIs and eight doubles, ranks second on the team with a .467 slugging percentage, a career-high six home runs and 23 runs scored, third with a .363 on-base percentage and fourth with 38 hits. He is tied for third on the squad with 10 multi-hit games and tied for second with four multi-RBI efforts.
Rott was named MAC East Division Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Monday (April 17) after putting together a monster week at the plate for Ohio, batting .429 with a team-best 1.190 slugging percentage and recording a team-high nine hits -- including a team-high five home runs -- to go along with a team-high 13 RBIs and seven runs scored, which tied for the team lead. Rott opened the week by going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored last Tuesday (April 11) in a 6-5 victory at Youngstown State. The following day at Marshall, he tallied his second home run of the season. Rott then came up with two huge performances in the final two games of a three-game set at MAC West Division foe Eastern Michigan. On Saturday (April 15), he went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs and six RBIs. Rott closed the week out by providing the Bobcats with three hits -- including a pair of home runs -- and driving in six runs for the second game in a row in the Sunday (April 16) series finale.
LOOKING TO FINISH STRONG
A four-year starter for the Bobcats, senior infielder Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) is looking to finish his career at Ohio at a high note. He is currently tied for second on the squad with 40 hits and ranks third in batting average (.282), fourth in RBIs (19) and fifth in both slugging percentage (.373) and on-base percentage (.346). Black is tied with junior outfielder/infielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) for the current longest streak of reaching base safely on the team, achieving the feat in 11-straight contests.
Over the last 11 games, Black is hitting .362 with a team-high 17 hits -- including a team-high four doubles to go along with a triple and two home runs -- and has driven in 13 runs and scored nine.
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 33 of the 34 games he's played in this year, ranking fourth on the team with a .281 batting average and fifth with 34 hits. He has hit safely in seven-straight games, which is currently the second-longest streak on the club. Bredeson has made 19 starts in 26 games played, ranking second in both batting average (.306) and on-base percentage (.366), fourth in slugging percentage (.412) and tied for fourth with five doubles. He has hit safely in each of the last six games (third-longest current streak on team) and has reached base safely in 10-straight contests, which currently ranks third on the team.
THREAT TO STEAL
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) has stolen 12 bases in 13 attempts in 2017 to set a new career high.
Finkler is fourth on the team in runs scored (20) and fifth in RBIs (18).
Rob Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 100 games at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a MAC tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
The Bobcats have totaled 44 MAC victories during Smith's tenure as head coach.
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.
The Bobcats are 3-3 against the Thundering Herd in the Smith era after suffering a 12-9 setback last Wednesday (April 12) at Kennedy Center Field in Huntington, W. Va. Ohio fell despite Ibarra, Black and Rott all hitting home runs as the Bobcats could not protect an early lead. Ohio received multi-hit efforts from four of its top-five hitters in the order. Ibarra went 2-for-5 with a double, a homer and three RBIs. Black finished 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Klein and Callery each tallied two singles, with Klein driving in a run and scoring two more while Callery recorded an RBI. Five Marshall hitters logged multi-hit games. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Shane Hanon posted a game-high three singles and drove in a run. Junior infielder Tyler Ratliff went 1-for-4 with a home run, two walks, four RBIs and three runs scored.
After defeating the Bobcats, Marshall headed south to Boca Raton, Fla., for a three-game Conference USA series against Florida Atlantic. The Thundering Herd dropped two of three games, losing the first two contests by scores of 7-3 and 12-6, respectively, on Friday and Saturday before salvaging the weekend with a 7-0 shutout victory on Sunday.
Before taking on Ohio again on Wednesday, Marshall plays host to in-state rival West Virginia on Tuesday (April 18) in a 6 p.m. ET matchup in Charleston, W. Va.
Marshall is led by 11th-year head coach Jeff Waggoner. The Thundering Herd was picked to finish eighth of 12 teams in the 2017 Conference USA Preseason Coaches Poll.
Ratliff leads Marshall with 39 hits -- including a team-high 11 doubles -- and has driven in a team-high 34 runs while scoring 27, which is tied for the team lead. He ranks second on the squad with eight home runs behind senior outfielder/catcher/infielder Sam Finfer, who has belted a team-high nine dingers and is also tied with Ratliff for the team lead with 27 runs scored.
Ohio and Marshall will clash one final time in 2017 on May 9 in a 6 p.m. ET matchup at Bob Wren Stadium.
Ohio makes its return to The Wren this weekend for a three-game series against MAC East Division archrival Miami. The series opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on Friday (Apri 21). Game two is slated for a 3 p.m. ET start on Saturday (April 22). The Sunday (April 23) series finale is set for a 1 p.m. ET first pitch. The weekend series is being promoted as 'Bark In The Park', which fans being invited to bring their dogs to the games. '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.