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Ohio Baseball Set To Battle Marshall In Two-Game Midweek Series

Ohio Baseball Set To Battle Marshall In Two-Game Midweek Series

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By Mike Ashcraft

Ohio at Marshall: Tuesday, April 16, 2018 | 3 p.m. ET | Kennedy Center YMCA Field | Huntington, W. Va. | Gametracker
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio R-Fr. LHP Cole Shinsky vs. Marshall TBD

Ohio vs. Marshall: Wednesday, April 17, 2018 | 4 p.m. ET | Bob Wren Stadium | Athens, Ohio | OhioBobcatTV Live Stream | PrestoSports PrimeTime
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio TBD vs. Marshall TBD

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (17-17) renews its longtime rivalry with Marshall (15-17) this week as the two foes sqaure off in a two-game home-and-home midweek set. The Bobcats will visit the Thundering Herd on Tuesday (April 16) in a 3 p.m. ET matchup at Kennedy Center YMCA Field in Huntington, W. Va. Ohio will then play host to Marshall on Wednesday (April 17) at Bob Wren Stadium, with first pitch set for 4 p.m. ET. The contest at The Wren will be streamed live by OhioBobcatTV via YouTube, with Gabe Genovesi and Logan Leduc on the call.

The Bobcats are 2-2 in midweek matchups so far in 2018.

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 Piechnick, redshirt senior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and redshirt sophomore right fielder Ryan Sargent (Algonquin, Ill.).

The Bobcats split a pair of midweek contests last week, falling at in-state rival Ohio State, 4-0, on Tuesday (April 10) at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus, but bouncing back with a 6-5 win in 10 innings over Shawnee State at The Wren on Wednesday (April 11).

Junior infielder Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) made clutch plays on both sides of the diamond on Wednesday night, but none were bigger than his walk-off home run in the 10th inning to propel the Bobcats to a victory over the Bears. He finished a double shy of hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-6 with a single, a triple, a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored.

Ohio owns a 5-7 record in Mid-American Conference play through the first three weeks of the league schedule.

The Bobcats lost two of three games in a hard-fought series against Eastern Michigan last weekend at Bob Wren Stadium. Redshirt senior left-handed starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) put together another strong outing on the mound, but Ohio suffered a tough 6-4 setback to Eastern Michigan in 10 innings on Friday (April 13) in the series opener. The Bobcats then split a Saturday (April 14) doubleheader with the Eagles. Ohio held on for a 5-4 victory in game one but suffered a tough 4-3 loss to the Eagles in the second game on the twin bill. In game one, Rott went 3-for-3 with a double and a run scored, and sophomore left fielder Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) belted a two-run home in the bottom of the third inning to help the Bobcats edge the Eagles.

The Bobcats dropped two of three games two weekends ago to Toledo at Scott Park. Junior outfielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) belted a grand slam in the top of the fourth inning to help set the tone for Ohio in a 15-4 blowout win over Toledo in the MAC weekend series opener on a very windy Friday (April 6) at Scott Park. The Bobcats pounded out double-digit runs on double-digit hits for the second game in a row and seventh time in 2018. Four Ohio hitters recorded multi-hit efforts. Piechnick went 4-for-4 with a double, a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored. He recorded his 10th multi-hit game of the year and first of his career with at least four hits. Piechnick has a current team-high nine-game hitting streak going. Freshman infielder Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio) -- the reigning MAC Player of the Week -- finished 3-for-4 with a three-run home run in the sixth. He also walked twice and scored three runs. Garcia added a single to go along with his grand slam. He scored two runs. Rott singled twice, walked, drove in two runs and scored another. During the offensive onslaught by Ohio, Salisbury gave the Bobcats another strong start on the mound. The reigning MAC Pitcher of the Week worked six innings, striking out four while permitting four runs -- two of which were earned -- on eight hits and a walk. Unfortunately, Toledo prevailed over Ohio in the final two games of the series. The Rockets put together a late rally to knock off the Bobcats, 3-2, on Saturday (April 7), then clinched the series with an 8-1 victory in the Sunday (April 8) series finale.

Ohio improved to 3-3 in MAC play after taking two of three games from Northern Illinois the previous weekend at Bob Wren Stadium. The Bobcats and the Huskies split a Saturday (March 31) doubleheader, with Ohio taking game one by a score of 6-1 and Northern Illinois prevailing in 10 innings in game two, 6-5. Ohio rolled to a 12-4 victory over Northern Illinois in the Sunday (April 1) rubber match.

Ohio lost two of three games at Bowling Green to open the MAC portion of its 2018 schedule. The Bobcats suffered a 6-4 loss in the series opener on March 23 but bounced back with an 11-3 victory the following day. Unfortunately for Ohio, the Falcons prevailed in the Sunday (March 25) series finale, 3-1.

Piechnick is off to a hot start to league play, hitting a team-best .391 with a team-best .696 slugging percentage and team-best .482 on-base percentage. He has collected a team-high 18 hits -- including three doubles, a triple and and a team-high three home runs. Rott is hitting .340 in conference games with 16 hits -- including a team-high five doubles to go along with two home runs -- and leads the squad in both RBIs (13) and runs scored (12).

Rott 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 34 games in 2018, Rott leads the Bobcats in batting average (.367), slugging percentage (.640), on-base percentage (.454), hits (51), doubles (12), home runs (8), walks (19), RBIs (29) and runs scored (32). He leads the MAC in hits and ranks second in batting average, tied for second in doubles, tied for third in home runs, third in slugging percentage and fourth in on-base percentage.

Ohio ranks as one of the MAC's top hitting teams. The Bobcats lead the league with 328 hits (86th in the country) and 32 home runs (44th in the country) and are third with 61 doubles (86th in the country) and rank fourth with a .274 batting average (102nd in the country) and a .413 slugging percentage (79th in the country), third with 190 runs scored (141st in the country), fifth with 138 walks (136th in the country) and fifth with a .363 on-base percentage (137th in the country).

Rott is one of seven Ohio players with at least 31 hits for the Bobcats this year. Garcia and Giannini are second and third on the team with 37 and 36 hits, respectibely. Garcia has a team-high two triples to go along with two home runs. Giannini's eight doubles are tied with sophomore catcher Tanner Piechnick for second on the team. Piechnick and sophomore infielder Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio) are fourth and fifth on the squad with 35 and 33 hits, respectively. Hafner is also tied for third on the team with Klein with 19 RBIs. Piechnick is tied for second on the team with five home runs. Levy has tallied 31 hits to rank seventh on the team. He is tied for second on the squad with five home runs and is fifth with 18 RBIs. Sargent has posted 32 hits to rank sixth on the team.

Ohio owns a 4.04 team earned run average, which is second best in the MAC.

Salisbury leads Ohio with 53.1 innings pitched and ranks first with 40 strikeouts. Senior right-handed starter Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) is second on the team with 37 strikeouts and is second on the team in innings pitched (38.2). Klein, who is 3-1 in nine appearances and 32.0 innings of work on the mound (fourth-most on the team) is tied for sixth on the team with 17 strikeouts. Sophomore lefty Derek Carr (Newark, Ohio), who has made three spot starts on the mound, is 1-0 with with a 2.86 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 22.0 innings of work.

Several members of Ohio's bullpen have produced quality work for the Bobcats. Kamrada sports a 1.59 ERA over 16 appearances. Freshman righty Eddie Kutt (Westlake, Calif.) owns a 3.58 ERA in 16 relief appearances. His 32.2 innings pitched leads the Bobcats' bullpen, and his 27 strikeouts lead Ohio relievers and are also third-most on the pitching staff. Redshirt senior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has struck out 22, putting him one above redshirt senior right-handed reliever Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio). Blessing's 28.2 innings pitched are right behind Kutt for second 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 Bobcats' 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. 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.

Ohio called upon Roehn to close out the win in game one of last Saturday's doubleheader against Eastern Michigan. Roehn, who had endured a rough stretch in which he did not produce a save in six opportunities, dug deep and delivered for his team. He picked up his sixth save of the season and 28th of his career.

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

Ohio has turned 33 double plays so far in 2018, which is tops among MAC teams and ranks 29th in the country. The Bobcats' two new middle infielders -- Hafner, a transfer from Sinclair Community College, and Levy have begun to develop a good rapport, with Levy being a part of 20 of Ohio's twin killings and Hafner chipping in on 16.

Marshall enters Tuesdays game vs. Ohio with a record of 15-17. The Herd lost two of their previous three at Western Kentucky this past weekend in a three game series. The Herd comes into Tuesdays match-up with the bobcats with a 5-9 record in the CUSA.

Marshall enters Tuesday's game against Ohio with an overall record of 15-17. The Thundering Herd lost two of their previous three at Western Kentucky last weekend in Bowling Green, Ky.

Jeff Waggoner is in his 12th season as the head coach of The Herd. Marshall, which finished 25-28 a season ago, finished 12-17 in the CUSA. Waggoner's team was projected to finish tenth in the conference for the 2018 season.  

Junior catcher Reynaldo Pastrana is Marshall's top hitter, batting a team-best .344. He has collected a team-high 45 hits while tallying a team-high 12 doubles and driving in a team-high 31 runs. Junior outfielder Shane Hanon is hitting at a .339 clip with 41 hits.

Ohio begins a stretch of seven-straight road games when it travels to northeast Ohio to take on MAC rival Kent State in a crucial three-game league series this weekend (April 20-22) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.