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Ohio Baseball Visits Towson In Search Of First Series Win Of 2018

Ohio Baseball Visits Towson In Search Of First Series Win Of 2018

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By Mike Ashcraft

Ohio at Towson Game 1: Friday, March 9, 2018 | 2 p.m. ET | Schuerholz Park | Towson, Md. | Live Video | StatBroadcast
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio R-Sr. LHP Gerry Salisbury vs. Towson Jr. RHP Gavin Weyman

Ohio at Towson Game 2: Saturday, March 10, 2018 | 1 p.m. ET | Schuerholz Park | Towson, Md. | Live Video | StatBroadcast
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio R-Sr. RHP Michael Klein vs. Towson Sr. LHP David Marriggi

Ohio at Towson Game 3: Sunday, March 11, 2018 | 1 p.m. ET | Schuerholz Park | Towson, Md. | Live Video | StatBroadcast
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio Sr. LHP #7 Butch Baird vs. Towson Sr. RHP Michael Adams

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (6-6) heads to Maryland this weekend in search of its first series win of the 2018 season, visiting Towson (2-8) for a three-game series at Schuerholz Park. The Bobcats and the Tigers open the series on Friday (March 9) with a 2 p.m. ET matchup. Both the Saturday (March 10) and Sunday (March 11) contests are scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m. ET.

Live stats for this weekend's series will be available via StatBroadcast. The games are set to be streamed by Towson via StretchInternet.

The Bobcats have split each of their previous three weekend series in 2018, which were four-game sets played at neutral sites. Ohio is set to play its first true road series of the year when it visits Towson this weekend. This weekend's series at Towson marks the start of a seven-game 2018 spring break road trip for the Bobcats.

Ohio and Nebraska Omaha each won two games in a four-game weekend series played at Perfect Game's LakePoint facility in Cartersville, Ga., last weekend The Bobcats bounced back from a tough 6-5 loss to to the Mavericks in the series opener on Friday (March 2) by using solid pitching and timely hitting to sweep a Saturday (March 3) doubleheader by scores of 4-1 and 5-2. Ohio was blanked by Nebraska Omaha in the series finale, though, 4-0.

Last Saturday's doubleheader sweep of the Mavericks saw redshirt senior left-handed starting pitcher Garry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) and senior right-handed starter Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) each earn their first victories on the mound of the 2018 campaign. In game one, Salisbury fanned four over eight innings while giving up just one earned run on four hits and a walk. He rendered Nebraska Omaha scoreless over the first six innings, allowing just one hit while the Mavericks managed to put just three men on base. In game two, Baird struck out four while giving up two earned runs on four hits and four walks over six innings.

Several youngsters contributed Ohio's success last Saturday as well. Sophomore catcher Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) led Ohio at the plate in game one with a double, a single and an RBI. Hafner added a pair of singles, drove in a run and scored another. Game two saw redshirt freshman catcher Dan McCauley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) deliver his first career home run -- a three-run shot to left that made it a 5-2 lead for the Bobcats. Freshman right-hander Chace Harris (New Marshfield, Ohio) entered in the eighth and earned his first career save by retiring the side in his first inning of work and then working around a single and a walk in the ninth to shut the door on Nebraska Omaha.

The Bobcats split a four-game weekend set with Maine two weeks ago at Perfect Game's LakePoint facility. Maine won the Friday (Feb. 23) series opener, 5-1. Ohio split the Saturday (Feb. 26) doubleheader with the Black Bears, taking game one by a score of 7-5 but falling the second game of the twin bill. The Bobcats closed out the weekend with a 6-2 win in the Sunday (Feb. 27) series finale. 

Ohio opened the 2018 season by splitting a four-game series against Rider in Lexington, S.C.

The Bobcats fell to the Broncs, 6-4, in the season opener on Feb. 16, but bounced back by sweeping a Saturday (Feb. 17) doubleheader by scores of 10-2 and 6-5. Ohio dropped the series finale, though, as Rider walked off in the 11th inning, 6-5, on Feb. 18.

Ohio enters week 4 of the 2018 season ranking as one of the Mid-American Conference's top hitting teams. The Bobcats rank third with 108 hits and 23 doubles (72nd in the country) and fifth with seven home runs. Ohio's .374 slugging percentage is good for fourth among conference teams.

Junior infielder Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) leads the Bobcats with a .510 slugging percentage and is second on the team in both batting average (.306) and on-base percentage (.404). He leads Ohio with 15 hits -- including a team-high two home runs. He's also collected four doubles, which ranks second on the team, and has drawn six walks, which is tied with redshirt senior infielder/right-handed pitcher Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) for the team lead.

Redshirt senior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), junior outfielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) and sophomore infielder Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio) are all tied for third on the squad with 13 hits. Bredeson owns a team-best .310 batting average. Hafner has collected a team-high six doubles and also leads the team with 10 RBIs.

Through three weeks of the 2018 season, Ohio owns a 2.98 team earned run average, which ranks 40th in the country. 

Three Bobcat pitchers own a sub-one ERA in at least five appearances on the mound -- redshirt junior right-hander Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) and redshirt senior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.), who both sport 0.00 ERAs, and freshman righty Eddie Kutt (Westlake, Calif.), who owns a 0.90 ERA. 

Baird and Salisbury lead Ohio are tied for the team lead with 16.2 innings pitched apiece, with Baird leading the Bobcats with 12 strikeouts and Salisbury ranking second with 10. Kutt's 10.0 innings pitched are tops among Ohio's relievers.

Under the direction of sixth-year head coach Rob Smith, who also serves as the Bobcats' pitching coach, Ohio established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the MAC in 2017. The Bobcats owned a 4.42 team ERA, which ranked second-best in the league. Ohio also ranked second in walks allowed per nine innings (4.12), third in strikeouts per nine innings (8.2) and fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (9.12). The Broobcats' pitching staff logged a program-record 483 strikeouts, breaking the previous mark of 420 set in 2003. Ohio's pitching staff recorded five shutout victories in 2017 after posting just one in 52 games in '16.

Roehn closed out Ohio's 6-5 win in the second game of the Feb. 17 doubleheader against Rider, earning his 23rd career save to break the program record, which was previously held by Chad Reed (22; 1989-92). Roehn threw the final 1.2 frames, striking out five while allowing just one hit.

Roehn earned his second save of the year in Ohio's 7-5 victory over Maine in game one of the Saturday doubleheader two weekends ago. Last Saturday, Roehn picked up his third save of the season in Ohio's 4-1 win over Nebraska Omaha in game one of the doubleheader. He entered in the bottom of the ninth and retired to the side to seal the victory, tallying his program-record 25th save of his career.

Roehn was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's 2018 Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List two weeks ago and was also named a 2018 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Third Team All-American in December. He tallied a program record 15 saves in 2017 to earn First Team All-MAC honors.

Ohio has turned 13 double plays so far in 2018, which ranks third among MAC teams and 18th in the country. The Bobcats' two new middle infielders -- Hafner, a transfer from Sinclair Community College, and freshman Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio) have begun to develop a good rapport, with Levy being a part of nine of Ohio's twin killings and Hafner chipping in on four.

Ohio has been picked to finish fourth in the 2018 MAC Preseason Poll, as announced by the league office on Feb. 15. The preseason poll was voted on by the league's 10 head coaches.

The Bobcats garnered 70 points overall. Kent State was tabbed as the top team in the MAC with eight first-place votes. The Golden Flashes totaled 98 points overall. Central Michigan was picked to finish second, tallying 86 points. Ball State was selected to finish third with 73 points. Rounding out the poll were Miami (49 points; one first-place vote), Western Michigan (47 points), Eastern Michigan (40 points), Toledo (36 points), Northern Illinois (35 points; one first-place vote) and Bowling Green (10 points).

The Bobcats are coming off of a 2017 campaign in which they finished with 31 wins -- including 11 in MAC play, which placed Ohio fifth in the overall league standings. Under the direction of 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 on 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.

Smith has led Ohio to two MAC tournament titles and two NCAA Championship appearances over the the last three years. Ohio had made just two NCAA tournament appearance in the 43 seasons prior to the 2015 campaign.

Towson owns a 2-8 record so far in 2018. The Tigers most recently fell to George Mason on Wednesday (March 7), 14-7, in a home midweek matchup. Towson dropped two of three at home last weekend to Albany, losing by scores of 15-3 and 2-0, respectively, on Friday and Saturday but closing out the series with an 8-7 Sunday win.

A member of the Colonial Athletic Association, Towson was picked to finish ninth of nine teams in the league's preseason poll. The Tigers are led by first-year head coach Matt Tyner.

Junior infielder Richie Palacios is Towson's top hitter, batting a team-best .368 and leading the Tigers in both slugging percentage (.763) and on-base percentage (.510). He has collected a team-high 14 hits with a team-high six doubles and three home runs and also leads Towson in RBIs (11) and runs scored (11). Senior southpaw David Marriggi, who is scheduled to start on the mound for the Tigers on Saturday, has been Towson's top arm so far in 2018, owning a 1-0 record with a team-best 2.35 ERA, throwing a team-high 15.1 innings and matching senior right-handed starter Michael Adams for the team lead with 15 strikeouts. 

Ohio's 2018 spring break trip continues as it heads to North Carolina next Tuesday (March 13) for a 4 p.m. ET matchup at High Point.