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Ohio Baseball Rallies To Beat USC Upstate In Weekend Series Finale

Ohio Baseball Rallies To Beat USC Upstate In Weekend Series Finale

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By Mike Ashcraft

Box Score (PDF)

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Ohio baseball team (11-8) rallied to beat USC Upstate (10-9-1), 10-5, in the Sunday (March 18) series finale of the three-game weekend set at Cleveland S. Harley Baseball Park.

The Bobcats erased a 5-3 deficit by scoring five runs in the top of the seventh inning and adding insurance runs in both the eighth and the ninth to defeat the Spartans.

Ohio salvaged the weekend series after dropping the series opener, 8-1, on Friday (March 16) and suffering a 12-7 loss on Saturday (March 17). The Bobcats picked up wins in five of their seven games played over spring break. Ohio has now won seven of its last 10 games.

The Bobcats plated 10 runs on 14 hits, with four Ohio batters producing multi-hit games. Redshirt sophomore right fielder Ryan Sargent (Algonquin, Ill.) finished 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. His three hits represented a career high. Sophomore shortstop Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio) went 2-for-5 with his first home run as a Bobcat. Junior center fielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) doubled, singled and scored two runs. Junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) finished 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, an RBI and a run scored. He has now posted a team-high 10 multi-hit efforts this season. Redshirt senior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) collected two singles and scored a run. 

USC Upstate took a 1-0 lead in the home half of the second when freshman third baseman Will Hardigree reached on an Ohio error with one out and scored one out later on a double to right by junior shortstop Andres Kim.

Ohio quickly took a 2-1 lead in the ensuing frame. Ohio loaded up the bases thanks to a lead off single by Sargent, a single to center by freshman second baseman Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio) and a two-out intentional walk that put Rott on. Redshirt senior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) then delivered a two-RBI double down the right field line that scored both Sargent and Levy, putting the Bobcats in the lead.

The lead was short lived for the Bobcats, however. USC Upstate tied the game up in the bottom of the third when redshirt senior left fielder Pat Raiff legged out a one-out single to first and then scored on a double to right center by senior catcher Charlie Carpenter. The Spartans regained the lead in the fourth when senior center fielder Russell Schwertfeger sent a one-out solo home run to right, putting USC Upstate up by a 3-2 count.

Ohio tied the game back up in the sixth as senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) coaxed a two-out walk, advanced second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a single to left by Hafner and scored on a fielding error in the outfield by USC Upstate. The Spartans quickly countered with two runs in the home half of the frame, though, to take a 5-3 lead. Hardigree drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a single by Schwertfeger and scored one out later on a base hit to right by freshman first baseman Austin Morgan to put USC Upstate back in front. Schwertfeger later scored from third when Raiff served up a sacrifice fly to left, upping the Spartans' lead to two runs.

The Bobcats completely swung the momentum of the game, however, by scoring five runs in the top of the seventh to snatch an 8-5 lead. Garcia was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, and Bredeson followed with a base hit through the left side. Garcia then scored when Rott singled to right and USC Upstate committed a throwing error in the outfield. Ohio evened the score when Klein sent a sacrifice fly to left, allowing Bredeson to tag up and score from third. The Bobcats then loaded up the bases when sophomore left fielder Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) singled to right center and Giannini followed by drawing a walk. Both Rott and Giannini scored on a play in which Sargent singled and USC Upstate committed an error. Giannini then scored Ohio's fifth and final run of the inning when he raced home on a wild pitch, giving the Bobcats a three-run advantage.

Ohio's lead increased to four runs in the eighth when Garcia led off with a double down the left field line and scored one out later on a double down the right field line by Rott. The Bobcats tacked on one final insurance run in the ninth when Hafner smacked a solo homer to left.

Redshirt senior right-hander Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) earned his first pitching win of the 2018 season, throwing 2.2 spotless innings of relief for Ohio. He fanned three. Senior southpaw starting pitcher Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) tossed the first 5.1 frames of the game, striking out a season-high eight. He gave up five runs -- four of which were earned -- on seven hits and two walks. Redshirt senior right-hander Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) pitched a scoreless ninth for the Bobcats, striking out one while permitting two walks. 

Schwertfeger led USC Upstate's bats with a home run and a single and scored two runs. Kim collected two base hits and drove in a run.

Junior right-handed reliever Jacob Thiessen suffered the loss on the mound for the Spartans, dropping to 0-3 on the year. He surrendered three earned runs on two hits. Freshman right-handed starting pitcher Jordan Marks went six innings, fanning five but allowing three runs -- two of which were earned -- on eight hits and two walks.

Ohio opens its 2018 Mid-American Conference schedule by visiting Steller Field for a three-game series at Bowling Green next weekend (March 23-25).