CLEVELAND -- The Ohio baseball team placed seven student-athletes on the 2017 Academic All-Mid-American Conference Team -- redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio), junior outfielder/infielder Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.), senior outfielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.), redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.), redshirt junior designated hitter/right-handed pitcher Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), senior left-handed pitcher Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) and sophomore infielder Rudy Rott(Holmen, Wis.) -- as announced by the league office on Friday (June 9).
The Academic All-MAC honor is for a student-athlete who has excelled in athletics and academics. To qualify, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average and have participated in at least 50 percent of the contests for that particular sport. A total of 75 players earned 2017 Academic All-MAC honors.
Giannini received recognition for the second year in a row while Blessing, Ibarra, Kamrada, Klein, Mikolajczak and Rott all earned honors for the first time in their careers.
The group helped the Bobcats finish 2017 with 31 wins -- including 11 in MAC play, which placed Ohio fifth in the overall league standings. Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Rob Smith, No. 5-seeded Ohio capped an improbable league postseason run by defeating No. 3-seeded Eastern Michigan, 7-4, to clinch the 2017 MAC Championship title on May 28 at Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio. Ohio earned its third MAC tournament title (1997, 2015, '17) with the victory. The Bobcats opened 2017 MAC Championship play by beating No. 4-seeded Ball State, 4-3, on May 24. Ohio then advanced to the winner's bracket final thanks to a late-night 5-3 win over No. 1-seeded Kent State the following day. The Bobcats eliminated the Golden Flashes with a 7-2 victory last Saturday (May 27), marking the fourth time in five tries Ohio emerged victorious over MAC regular season champion Kent State in 2017. After missing the national postseason tournament 17 years in a row, Ohio punched its second NCAA Regional ticket in the last three years as the MAC's automatic bid with the victory over Eastern Michigan, advancing to the 2017 NCAA Championship Lexington Regional. The No. 4 regionally-seeded Bobcats fell to No. 1 regionally-seeded Kentucky, 6-4, on June 4, then dropped an 11-2 decision to No. 2 regionally-seeded Indiana the following day.
A Management Information Systems major with a 3.296 GPA, Blessing appeared in a career-high 25 games on the mound with a career-high three starts, going 3-1 with a 4.12 ERA and striking out a career-high 55 over a career-high 43.2 innings of work.
A Marketing major with a 3.315 GPA, Giannini saw action in a career-high 49 games and made a career-high 45 starts, tallying a career-high 43 hits – including a career-high seven doubles – to go along with a career-high 15 walks, 13 RBIs and a career-high 20 runs scored.
An Economics major with a 3.350 GPA, Ibarra played in a career-high 58 games with a career-high 57 starts, leading the team in batting average (.325), slugging percentage (.542), on-base percentage (.398), hits (78), doubles (14; tied for team lead), home runs (12) and runs scored (47) -- all of which represented career highs. The First Team All-MAC selection also tied for second on the team with a career-high 38 RBIs and tied for third with a career-high 22 walks. Ibarra Led the team with 23 multi-hit games and tied for the team lead with 10 multi-RBI games. He was also named to the 2017 All-MAC Defensive Team after posting a .992 fielding percentage with 115 putouts and just one error. Ibarra garnered MAC East Division Player of the Week honors twice (March 20, April 4). He was garnered 2017 MAC Championship Most Valuable Player distinction, joining outfielder Bart Leahy (1997) and right-handed pitcher Logan Cozart (2015) as the only players in Ohio's history to earn such honors. Ibarra hit .368 with seven hits, two RBIs and three runs scored over four league tournament games.
A Pre Exercise Physiology major with a 3.333 GPA, Kamrada Made a career-high 14 appearances on the mound – including a career-high six starts. He struck out a career-high 13 over a career-high 21.2 innings of work.
A Finance major with a 3.328 GPA, Klein played in a career-high 53 games with a career-high 52 starts, tying for second on the team with a career-high 38 RBIs, ranking third on the team with a career-best .490 slugging percentage and a career-high eight home runs, ranking fourth with a career-best .300 batting average, a career-best .368 on-base percentage, a career-high 35 runs scored and a career-high 10 doubles and ranking fifth with a career-high 63 hits. Posted 15 multi-hit games (fifth on team) and nine multi-RBI games (third on team). The First Team All-MAC pick also made a career-high 14 starts on the mound, going 5-3 with a team-best 3.48 ERA. He struck out a career-high 58 (third on the team) over a career-high 67.1 innings of work (second on the team). Klein was named MAC East Division Player of the Week on Feb. 20 and MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week on May 22. He was selected to the 2017 All-MAC Championship Team after batting .357 with five hits, three RBIs and four runs scored.
A Chemical Engineering major with a 3.531 GPA, Mikolajczak made a career-high 25 appearances on the mound, striking out a career-high 18 over a career-high 23.1 innings.
A Sport Management major with a 3.597 GPA, Rott started a career-high 59 games, leading the team with a career-high 50 RBIs and a career-high 26 walks, tying for the team lead with a career-high 14 doubles, ranking second on the team with a career-best .504 slugging percentage, a career-best .395 on-base percentage, a career-high 71 hits and a career-high 11 home runs, tying for second on the team with a career-high 38 runs scored and ranking third on the team with a .303 batting average. He ranked second on the team with 21 multi-hit games and tied for the team lead with 10 RBIs. Rott recorded a .922 fielding percentage with a team-high 448 putouts as well as 28 assists with just four errors, earning 2017 All-MAC Defensive Team selection for his efforts. He was named MAC East Division Player of the Week twice (April 17, May 8).