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Ohio Baseball Opens 2018 MAC Play At Bowling Green

Ohio Baseball Opens 2018 MAC Play At Bowling Green

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By Mike Ashcraft

Ohio at Bowling Green Game 1: Friday, March 23, 2018 | 3:05 p.m. ET | Steller Field | Bowling Green, Ohio | WOUB 1340 AM Radio Broadcast | SIDEARM Sports Live Stats
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio R-Sr. LHP Gerry Salisbury vs. Bowling Green Sr. RHP #21 Zac Carey

Ohio at Bowling Green Game 2: Saturday, March 24, 2018 | 1:05 p.m. ET | Steller Field | Bowling Green, Ohio | WOUB 1340 AM Radio BroadcastSIDEARM Sports Live Stats
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio R-Sr. RHP Michael Klein vs. Bowling Green Fr. LHP #37 David Stopp

Ohio at Bowling Green Game 3: Sunday, March 25, 2018 | 1:05 p.m. ET | Steller Field | Bowling Green, Ohio | WOUB 1340 AM Radio BroadcastSIDEARM Sports Live Stats
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio Sr. LHP #7 Butch Baird vs. Bowling Green R-Sr. RHP #18 Tyler Anderson

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (11-8, 0-0 MAC) opens the Mid-American Conference portion of its 2018 schedule by visiting Bowling Green (4-16, 0-0 MAC) for a three-game series this weekend at Steller Field. The series opener is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET on Friday (March 23). Game two is slated for 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday (March 24). The Sunday (March 25) series finale is set to get underway at 1:05 p.m. ET. 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein and Max McDulin will have the call of the action on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.

The Bobcats enter league play having won seven of their last 10 games.

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 then split a four-game weekend set with Maine 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 and Nebraska Omaha each won two games in a four-game weekend series played at Perfect Game's LakePoint facility in Cartersville, Ga. The Bobcats bounced back from a tough 6-5 loss to to the Mavericks in the series opener on 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, on March 4.

The Bobcats earned both their first series victory and first series sweep of the 2018 season as Ohio took all three games from host Towson at Schuerholz Park in Towson, Md. Ohio took the series opener from the Tigers on March 9, 5-2, then hung on for a 10-9 win that clinched the series the next day. The Bobcats then roared back from a 7-0 deficit to top Towson, 9-8, in the Sunday (March 11) series finale.

Ohio belted a season-high five home runs en route to an 11-7 victory over host High Point on March 14 at Williard Stadium in High Point, N.C., in the Bobcats' first midweek game of the year. Four players went yard for the Bobcats in the win over the Panthers. Senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) led the way with a pair of home runs. Also going deep for the Bobcats were redshirt senior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), sophomore left fielder Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) and redshirt sophomore right fielder Ryan Sargent (Algonquin, Ill.).

Last weekend, the Bobcats dropped two of three games to host USC Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. Ohio lost the series opener, 8-1, on Friday (March 16) and suffered a 12-7 loss on Saturday (March 17). The Bobcats salvaged the weekend series by rallying to beat the Spartans, 10-5, in the Sunday (March 18) series finale.

Junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) put together a monster weekend to help Ohio sweep Towson. Rott hit a team-best .727 with both a team-best 1.273 slugging percentage and a team-best .813 on-base percentage, collected a team-high eight hits -- including a team-high two home runs -- to go along with a team-high five walks and a team-high four RBIs. He also tied for second on the team with three runs scored. Rott finished 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the 5-2 win in the series opener. He then finished 2-for-4 with a home run and drew a pair of walks as the Bobcats hung on to beat Towson on Saturday. Rott closed out the weekend with another big performance, going 3-for-3 with his team-leading fourth home run of the season in the Sunday series finale. He also drew two walks. His two-out, three-run blast highlighted a five-run top of the sixth inning that put Ohio in position to pull off the come-from-behind triumph.

Through 19 games in 2018, he leads the Bobcats in batting average (.403), slugging percentage (.649), on-base percentage (.500), hits (31), home runs (4), walks (12) and runs scored (15). He is also tied for the team lead with seven doubles and is tied for third on the squad with 13 RBIs. Rott enters conference play ranking tops among MAC batters in hits, third in batting average and on-base percentage and fourth in slugging percentage. He has posted a team-high 10 multi-hit efforts this season.

Ohio enters its sixth weekend series of the 2018 season ranking as one of the Mid-American Conference's top hitting teams. The Bobcats lead the league with 38 doubles (68th in the country) and 17 home runs (53rd in the country) and rank second with 186 hits (96th in the country), a .277 batting average (87th in the country) and a .416 slugging percentage (73rd in the country) and third with 79 walks.

Rott is one of six Ohio players with at least 18 hits for the Bobcats this year. Redshirt senior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfied Hills, Mich.) is second on the team with 23 hits. He also ranks second on the squad with a .348 batting average. Giannini and junior outfielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) are tied for third on the squad with 22 hits apiece, with Giannini also ranking third on the team with five doubles and tied for second with two home runs. Sophomore infielder Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio) is fifth on the squad with 19 hits and is tied with Rott for the team lead with seven doubles. He has also collected a team-high 16 RBIs. Sargent has posted 18 hits to rank sixth on the team and is second on the squad with 14 RBIs.

The Bobcats are one of nine teams in the country that have had at least 10 different players hit a home run this season.

Through five weeks of the 2018 season, Ohio owns a 4.24 team earned run average, which ranks second in the MAC.

Two Bobcat pitchers own a sub-one ERA in at least eight appearances on the mound -- redshirt junior right-hander Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) and redshirt senior righty Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.), who both sport 0.00 ERAs. Freshman righty Eddie Kutt (Westlake, Calif.) owns a 1.93 ERA in eight relief appearances, and his 15 strikeouts leads Ohio relievers and are tied for third-most on the pitching staff. 

Redshirt senior southpaw starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) leads Ohio with 26.2 innings pitched and is second on the squad with 16 strikeouts. Senior right-handed starter Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) leads the Bobcats with 24 strikeouts. Redshirt senior right-handed starting pitcher/designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), who is 3-0 in five appearances and 25.2 innings of work on the mound (second-most on the team) is tied with Kutt for third on the team with 15 strikeouts.

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. Roehn picked up his third save of the season in Ohio's 4-1 win over Nebraska Omaha in game one of the Saturday 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 earned two saves at Towson, bringing his career total to 27 after closing out the Bobcats' Friday and Saturday victories over the Tigers.

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 20 double plays so far in 2018, which is tops among MAC teams and ranks 21st 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 11 of Ohio's twin killings and Hafner chipping in on nine.

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.

Bowling Green enters this weekend's series against Ohio with a record of 4-16 on the season. The Falcons had lost nine in a row until beating in-state rival Dayton, 5-4, courtesy of a walk-off single by freshman infielder Dylan Dohanos in the bottom of the ninth inning. 

Danny Schmitz is in his 28th season as the head coach of the Falcons. Bowling Green finished 15-34 a season ago while going 9-15 in MAC play.

Junior infielder Ty Suntken comes into the series as one of the Falcons top hitters, batting a team best .375 with a team-best .531 slugging percentage and team-best .412 on-base percentage. Junior infielder Neil Lambert is hitting .315 and has a team-high 23 hits on the season -- including a team high six doubles.

Bowling Green's top pitchers going into the weekend are sophmore righty Damon Egnor and senior left-hander Kody Brown. Egnor comes into the weekend with a team-best 1.46 ERA and has allowed a team-low five hits. Brown comes into the series with a 2.13 era and a team-high 25.1 innings pitched this season. Redshirt senior right-hander Tyler Anderson, who is expected to start on the mound on Sunday for the Falcons, has struck out a team-high 25 batters.

Ohio is 6-9 against Bowling Green in the Smith era. The Bobcats took two of three games from the Falcons in 2017 at Bob Wren Stadium. Ohio won the series opener, 9-1, on May 5 thanks in large part to a grand slam by Rott. The Bobcats secured the weekend series win with a 9-4 victory the following day. The Falcons prevailed in the Sunday (May 7) series finale, 5-4, as Bowling Green pushed across the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. Ohio last visited Steller Field in 2016. Bowling Green won the first two games of the series by scores of 5-4 and 6-2 before Ohio salvaged the weekend with a 10-5 triumph in the finale. 

Ohio visits Morehead State next Tuesday (March 27). First pitch is set for 5 p.m. ET.