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Ohio Baseball Hurt By Errors In Season-Opening Loss To Rider

Ohio Baseball Hurt By Errors In Season-Opening Loss To Rider

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By Mike Ashcraft

Box Score (PDF)

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Redshirt senior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) hit a two-run home run, and senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) finished 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored, but the Ohio baseball team (0-1) could not overcome four errors in a 6-4 season-opening loss to Rider (1-0) on Friday (Feb. 16) at Lexington County Stadium.

The Broncs landed the first punch in the top of the third inning when freshman infielder second baseman Jake Barbiere led off with a single, advanced to second on an error by the Bobcats and then scored on a sacrifice fly to center by senior first baseman Jake Bender. Ohio answered in the home half of the fourth, though, taking a 2-1 lead when junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) was hit by a pitch with one out to set the table for Klein's two-run homer to left.

The Bobcats' edge was short lived, however, as Rider plated five runs over the next two frames. Barbiere coaxed a walk to lead off the fifth, then scored on a two-out double by Bender to even the score. Sophomore Joe Simone put the Broncos back in the lead when he followed with an RBI base hit to right. Rider's lead swelled to 6-2 in the sixth after a couple of miscues by the Bobcats. Junior designated hitter Riley Mihalik reached on another Ohio error to lead off the inning, moved to second on a single by sophomore catcher Tyler Stockwell, then to third on a wild pitch. That set the stage for a two-RBI double to left by senior third baseman Christian Estevez. Barbiere then scored his third run of the game after drawing another walk and scoring from third two outs later on a base hit to right by Bender. 

Ohio chipped away at Rider's lead in the bottom of the seventh after redshirt junior right-handed reliever Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) worked around a one-out double by Mihalik to keep the Broncs off the board in the top half of the frame. Giannini led off the home half with a single to left, advanced to second on a fielding error by Rider that put redshirt senior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) on base and scored two outs later on a double to left by sophomore shortstop Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio), who collected his first hit and RBI in his first start as a Bobcat.

The Bobcats had a chance to heavily swing momentum in their favor in the eighth. Rott led off with an infield single to short, and Klein followed with a walk, but a double play hurt Ohio's chances for a big inning. Giannini doubled home Klein to make it a two-run game and, after Bredeson was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on a passed ball, but Ohio could not add on.

After redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) threw a scoreless top of the ninth, Rider called upon freshman Vincent Vitacco to close the game out. Redshirt sophomore right fielder Ryan Sargent (Algonquin, Ill.) smacked a leadoff single to center for his second hit of the day, then junior center fielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) drew a walk one out later to put two on for the Bobcats. Ohio could not capitalize on the opportunity, though, and Vitacco earned his first career save by ending the contest with a strikeout.

Redshirt senior southpaw Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) took the loss on the mound for Ohio. He worked 4.2 frames, giving up three runs -- two of which were earned -- on five hits and a walk. He struck out two. Kamrada tossed 1.2 scoreless innings of relief with a strikeout while Blessing pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, striking out one. 

Freshman Joe Papeo was credited with the pitching win for Rider, totaling five strikeouts in five innings on the hill. He surrendered two earned runs on three hits. Junior Nick Payesko threw one scoreless frame in relief.

Ohio and Rider are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday (Feb. 17). First pitch of game one has been moved up from noon ET to 11 a.m. ET. Klein is scheduled to take the ball for Ohio in the first game and oppose Rider sophomore Pete Soporowski while senior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) is the probable starter for the Bobcats in the second game of the twin bill and will face junior Zach Gakeler of the Broncs.