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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (20-22) will play its final road midweek game of the 2017 season on Tuesday (May 2) when it visits Morehead State (28-16) for a 5 p.m. ET matchup at John "Sonny" Allen Field in Morehead, Ky.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUP
Tuesday: Ohio TBD vs. Morehead State TBD | StatBroadcast
BOBCATS LOSE SERIES AT WESTERN MICHIGAN
Ohio lost two of three games to Mid-American Conference West Division foe Western Michigan last weekend at Robert J. Bobb Stadium at Hyames Field.
The Bobcats fell to the Broncos in the opening game of a Friday (May 28) doubleheader as Western Michigan produced a 3-2 walk-off win. In the second game of the twin bill, Ohio rallied back from a 12-5 deficit in the fifth inning to produce a marathon 17-13 win that took two days complete. The Bobcats led, 15-12, in the top of the eighth inning when the contest was called due to darkness Friday night. The Bobcats wrapped up the win on Saturday (April 29) morning. The Green & White pounded out a season-high 17 runs on 17 hits and saw five players record multi-hit efforts. Freshman left fielder Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) enjoyed a breakout performance at the plate, going a career-best 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two walks, two RBIs and five runs scored. Western Michigan completed the weekend series win, though, by blanking the Bobcats, 9-0, in the finale on Saturday afternoon.
ROEHN NAMED TO NCBWA 2017 STOPPER OF THE YEAR MIDSEASON WATCH LIST
Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has been honored as one of 40 of the top relief pitchers in college baseball to be named to the Midseason Watch List for the 13th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, as announced by members of the association on April 26.
Roehn is one of 16 of the 40 players who were on the preseason watch list released on Feb. 13 and is the lone representative from the MAC.
Roehn has made 20 appearances out of the bullpen in 2017, sporting a 3-2 record with a 1.99 ERA and 34 strikeouts over 31.2 innings of work. He has allowed just seven earned runs on 26 hits and 12 walks.
Roehn threw the final three frames for Ohio to secure the victory over Western Michigan for the Bobcats and nail down his career-high 10th save of the season, which ranks as the second-most in a single season in program history. He struck out three while allowing one earned run on three hits. His 17 career saves are tied for the second-most in program history.
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.
Texas hurler J. Brent Cox won the inaugural Stopper of the Year Award in 2005, with Don Czyz of Kansas claiming the honor in 2006 and Luke Prihoda of Sam Houston State winning it in 2007. Georgia's Joshua Fields topped the field in 2008, San Diego State's Addison Reed grabbed the honor in 2009 and Texas' Chance Ruffin earned the honor in 2010. The Longhorns' Corey Knebel won in 2011, with Southeastern Louisiana's Stefan Lopez picking up the honor in 2012. UCLA's David Berg was crowned the winner in 2013, Louisville's Nick Burdi took home the 2014 honor and Berg became the award's first two-time winner in 2015. Miami (Fla.)'s Bryan Garcia was honored as the 2016 recipient.
The NCBWA, founded in 1962, presents the Dick Howser Trophy to the nation's top player. It also selects All-America Teams for all Divisions, a Division I Freshman All-American team, Division I, II and III Players of the Week and Division I, II and III Players of the Year.
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.
IBARRA OFF TO STRONG START
Through 42 games in 2017, Ibarra leads the Bobcats with a .329 batting average, a .576 slugging percentage (fifth-best in the MAC), a .402 on-base percentage, 56 hits, 10 home runs (tied for the MAC lead) and 33 runs scored. He also ranks second on the team with 30 RBIs and 10 doubles and is third on the squad with 14 walks. He has tallied a team-high 17 multi-hit games and six multi-RBI contests. He's hit safely in each of the last nine games, which currently ranks as the second-longest such streak on the club.
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 0.983 team fielding percentage ranks fifth in the nation entering this weekend's series. The Bobcats have committed just 27 errors in 42 games.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC in 2017. The Bobcats own a 4.45 team ERA, which is third-best in the league. Ohio also ranks third in the MAC in hits allowed per nine innings (9.21), walks allowed per nine innings (4.31) and strikeouts per nine innings (8.1).
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded four shutout victories 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 fourth 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 4-3 record, fanning a team-high 50 over 58.1 innings to rank second on the squad. 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) is second on the team with 46 strikeouts and has thrown a team-high 60.2 innings on the mound.
Moving to the bullpen after spending the last three seasons as a starting pitcher, senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) is third on the squad with 42 strikeouts over 31.2 innings of relief. He was named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week for the first time in 2017 and second time in his career last Monday (April 24). He helped Ohio finish with three victories in four games two weeks ago with his performance out of the bullpen, going 2-0 with four strikeouts while allowing just six hits, four walks and no runs over three appearances and 4.2 innings of work. Rudnicki threw one scoreless inning of relief on April 19 in an 11-10 win in 10 innings over longtime rival Marshall at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio, fanning two while giving up a hit and a walk. On April 21, he picked up his first victory on the mound of the 2017 season in a 9-5 triumph over MAC East Division archrival Miami at Bob Wren Stadium, striking out one while surrendering just three hits and two walks in 1.2 frames. Rudnicki improved to 2-3 on the year by earning the win on the mound in the Sunday (April 23) series finale -- a 3-2 win that allowed the Bobcats to clinch the weekend series from the RedHawks. He struck out one while giving up two hits and a walk in two scoreless frames of relief. Redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) has fanned 37 in 17 appearances and 29.2 innings, ranking fifth on the team in strikeouts. Senior southpaw Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) has made 19 relief appearances and sports a 2.84 ERA. Senior righty Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) leads the team with 22 appearances (tied for the conference lead) out of the bullpen while sophomore right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) ranks second on the team with 21. Colletti has notched 33 strikeouts in 37.0 innings of work.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving as the No. 3 pitcher in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein is fourth on the team in slugging percentage (.415) and RBIs (20) and fifth in hits (41), runs scored (21) and doubles (6).
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 42 games in 2017, Rott leads the leads the Bobcats with 32 RBIs, 11 doubles and 17 walks, ranks second on the team with a .479 slugging percentage, 28 runs scored and a career-high seven home runs and is tied for second on the squad with 47 hits.
Rott was named MAC East Division Player of the Week for the first time in his career on 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 on 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 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 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 on a high note. He is tied for second on the squad with 47 hits -- including eight doubles, which ranks third on the team. He also ranks fourth on the team with 22 runs scored and fifth with 19 RBIs.
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 40 of the 41 games he's played in this year, ranking second on the team with a .309 batting average, fourth with 46 hits and fifth with a .356 on-base percentage. He has hit safely in each of the last 14 games, which currently leads the team. Moving into the role of starting third baseman this year, Callery has committed just four errors at the hot corner and owns a .957 fielding percentage. Bredeson has made 22 starts in 31 games played, ranking fourth in batting average (.290) and doubles (7).
Three other Bobcats have been called upon to step up in the absence of other players due to injuries during the month of April -- senior catcher Anthony Mrosla (Coon Rapids, Minn.), junior outfielder Evan Bourn (Overland Park, Kan.) and freshman catcher Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.). Mrosla made 10 starts in April, tallying 11 hits. Bourn started six games, totaling six hits. Piechnick logged 15 hits -- including four doubles and a triple -- in seven starts.
THREAT TO STEAL
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) has stolen 13 bases in 15 attempts in 2017 to set a new career high.
Finkler third on the team in both runs scored (23) and RBIs (21). Defensively, he owns a .981 fielding percentage and has logged a team-high 135 assists.
Rob Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 104 games at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a MAC tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
The Bobcats have totaled 47 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.
SCOUTING MOREHEAD STATE
Ohio and Morehead State meet for the sixth time since Smith took over as head coach of the Bobcats, with Ohio coming away with three wins in the previous five matchups. The Bobcats swept the 2016 season series from the Eagles, recording a 15-3 victory at The Wren on April 19, then posting a 5-3 win at Morehead State on May 3. In the first meeting of the 2017 season between Ohio and Morehead State on March 21, the Eagles came away with a 3-1 win. The Bobcats fell despite not giving up a free base. Junior infielder Braxton Morris led Morehead State at the plate with a 3-for-4 day. Sophomore outfielder Niko Hulsizer accounted for the game's only extra-base hits with a home run and a double. Junior infielder/outfielder Eli Boggess collected a pair of singles for the Eagles.
In his fifth year as head coach of the Eagles, Mike McGuire has seen his Morehead State squad go 28-16 so far in 2017 -- including a 13-7 record in Ohio Valley Conference play. The Eagles have lost five of their last seven games, though, dropping a three-game series at home to OVC rival Eastern Illinois. Morehead State fell by scores of 14-7 and 9-8 to the Panthers on Friday and Saturday, respectively, but salvaged the weekend with a 16-15 triumph in 10 innings in the Sunday (April 30) finale.
McGuire's team is one of the top offensive squads in the nation, ranking first with 396 runs scored, tied for first with 550 hits, second with a .336 team batting average and a .531 slugging percentage, fifth with 66 home runs and sixth with 105 doubles.
Boggess and senior outfielder Will Schneider are tied for 11th in the nation with .404 batting averages. Schneider is also seventh in the country with a .509 on-base percentage and 12th with 69 hits. Hulsizer is tied for first in the nation with 20 home runs and ranks second with a .810 slugging percentage, fourth with 60 RBIs, fifth with 54 runs scored, tied for 17th with 68 hits and tied for 22nd with 17 doubles.
Ohio plays host to a critical three-game series against MAC East Division rival Bowling Green this weekend at Bob Wren Stadium. The weekend set opens Friday (May 5) with a 6 p.m. ET matchup. The first pitch of the Saturday (May 6) contest is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET while the Sunday (May 7) series finale is slated to get underway at 1 p.m. ET. '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.