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Klein's Go-Ahead Double Pushes Ohio Baseball To Comeback Victory At Kent State In Extras

Klein's Go-Ahead Double Pushes Ohio Baseball To Comeback Victory At Kent State In Extras

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By Mike Ashcraft

Box Score (PDF)

KENT, Ohio -- Redshirt senior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) came through with a two-out, two-RBI double in the top of the 12th inning to push the Ohio baseball team (18-20, 6-8 MAC) to a big 5-3 come-from-behind victory over Mid-American Conference rival Kent State (24-11, 10-4 MAC) on Saturday (April 21) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.

"Today is obviously a toughness, and I think our team has shown a lot of toughness," said sixth-year head coach Rob Smith. "We've battled through some adversity when it comes to injuries and being down some arms and having some guys playing banged up. We stayed the course, hung in there, and obviously, we got the big hit and were able to close it down."

The Bobcats evened the weekend series after the Golden Flashes took the series opener, 5-3, on Friday (April 20). Saturday's victory snapped a season-long four-game losing skid for Ohio.

Ohio, which trailed 3-0 going into the seventh inning, earned their seventh comeback win of the 2018 season and third when trailing after six innings. The Bobcats picked up their second extra-innings win in six tries -- including their first in three attempts in league play.

The top of the 12th inning saw junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) draw a two-out walk for the Bobcats and advance to third on a single to left by sophomore left fielder/catcher Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.). Klein then came through a double down the left field line to clear the bases.

"It's big," said Klein, who has battled through injury for the majority of conference play, said of his go-ahead double. "I had another opportunity earlier in the game. We had second and third and all I had to do was hit a fly ball. I felt like I missed that opportunity, and the bullpen came in and picked me up. Defense played well. We battled through at-bats, and then baseball rewarded me with another opportunity. I told the umpire while I was on deck, 'This is my redemption, and I'm not missing this one. It felt great."

Freshman right-hander Eddie Kutt (Westlake, Calif.) then entered the game in the home half and nailed down his first career save. Redshirt senior right fielder Nick Kanavas led off with a single to short for Kent State, but Kutt struck out senior center fielder Mason Mamarella, got senior catcher Tim DalPorto to ground out to third and junior third baseman Pavin Parks to ground out to first to seal the victory for Ohio.

Kent State grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Freshman second baseman Greg Lewandoski led off with a home run to left. One out later, Mamarella tripled to left center and then scored on a double to left by DalPorto.

The Golden Flashes tacked on a third run in the sixth when Parks led off with a single through the left side, stole second one out later and then scored on a base hit through the left side by redshirt senior left fielder Reilly Hawkins.

The Bobcats' offense took advantage of five free bases handed to them by Kent State's pitching in the seventh inning, however, plating two runs to make it a one-run contest. Klein and sophomore shortstop Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio) drew back-to-back walks to lead off the frame, chasing Kent State junior left-handed starting pitcher Connor Wollersheim from the contest. After redshirt senior right-hander Robert Zeigler entered to relieve Wollersheim, junior center fielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Klein and Hafner into scoring position. One out later, freshman second baseman Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio) loaded the bases by drawing a walk, and redshirt sophomore right fielder Ryan Sargent (Algonquin, Ill.) followed by pushing across Ohio's first run when Zeigler hit him with a pitch. Kent State dipped into its bullpen again, giving the ball to freshman southpaw Jack Zimmerman, who walked redshirt freshman catcher Dan McCauley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) to drive home Hafner and cut the score to 3-2. The Bobcats left the bases loaded, though, as Zimmerman came up with a strikeout to end the inning.

Redshirt senior left-handed starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) gave Ohio a chance to continue its rally with his pitching in the home half of the seventh. He gave up a one-out single to center to Mamarella, but he got DalPorto ground into an inning-ending 1-4-6-3 double play.

Ohio then made it a new ballgame in the eighth as Piechnick sent a leadoff double down the left field line and then scored one out later when Hafner served up a sacrifice fly to center, tying the score at three-all.

The Golden Flashes put two on with one out in the home half of the eighth as junior third baseman Pavin Parks led off with a walk, followed by Hawkins coaxing a free pass one out later. Kent State squandered the opportunity to retake control, however, as Parks was thrown out attempting to steal third and sophomore pinch hitter Patrick Ferguson flied out to left to end the inning.

The Bobcats continued to put pressure on Kent State's pitching in the ninth, with senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) leading off with a single to short. Ohio was unable to captialize, however, as a pop and an inning-ending double play followed Giannini's base hit.

Kent State put the winning run on second in the bottom of the ninth as redshirt senior right fielder Nick Kanavas drew a two-out walk and then stole second. Redshirt senior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.), throwing his second inning in relief of Salisbury, sent the contest to extras when he got Mamarella to ground out to first to end the inning.

The Bobcats had a pair of runners in scoring position in the top of the 10th but were unable to score the go-ahead run. Freshman left fielder Sebastian Fabik (Lebanon, Ohio) led off with a walk and moved to second on a single to right by junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.). After Fabik was lifted in favor of sophomore pinch runner Jack Longo (Mayfield, Ohio), Piechnick successfully executed a sacrifice bunt to move both Longo and Rott into scoring position. Kent State got out of the jam, though, when redshirt senior righty Zach Spangler entered the contest and got the next two Ohio batters to pop up and ground out.

Kent State threatened in the home half of the 10th when Parks sent a one-out double down the right field line, but Roehn escaped damage as he struck out senior first baseman Brad Hamilton and got Hawkins to line out to third to force an 11th inning.

Ohio went down in order in the top of the 11th, but freshman lefty Brett Manis (Port Huron, Mich.) and redshirt junior right-hander Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) combined to retire Kent State's order in the bottom half, giving the Bobcats an opportunity to break through in the 12th.

A depleted Ohio pitching staff provided a masterful effort. Salisbury went seven innings, striking out seven. He allowed three earned runs on 11 hits and two walks. Roehn worked three scoreless innings, striking out two while giving up a hit and two walks. Manis got the first two outs for the Bobcats in the 11th -- including a strikeout. Kamrada got the final out of the frame and wound up earning the win to improve to 1-0 on the season.

"I'm super proud," said Smith of his pitchers. "We were going to have to ride Gerry as long as we could, and we did. Jake Roehn, obviously, coming out and throwing three innings. That's the most extended he's been all year. He got close to 50 pitches. He just battled his tail off. Again, I have to tip my cap to Manis and Kamrada there to set that inning up for us to get in there, score some runs and give us a chance to close it out."

Piechnick led Ohio at the plate with a 3-for-5 effort that included a double and two runs scored. He posted his 12th multi-hit game of the year, which ranks second on the team, and has now tallied three games with at least three hits. Rott finished with a pair of singles, giving him a team-high 16 multi-hit games. He also walked once.

Kent State saw five hitters record multi-hit days, with freshman designated hitter Nick Elsen leading the way with three singles. Mamarella tripled, singled and scored a run. Parks went 2-for-5 with a double, a walk and a run scored. Hawkins finished 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. Kanavas collected a pair of singles and walked once. 

Wollersheim went six innings on the bump for the Golden Flashes, striking out four while surrendering two earned runs on four hits and two walks. Freshman southpaw Collin Romel allowed an earned run on three hits and a walk over 2.1 frames of relief. Spangler tossed two perfect frames out of the bullpen, striking out three. Redshirt junior left-hander John Schreiber was tagged with the loss, dropping to 1-1 on the year after permitting two earned runs on two hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.

Ohio will try to take the weekend series from Kent State when the two squads square off in the Sunday (April 22) rubber match. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. ET. Ohio's starting pitcher is to be determined. Senior lefty Eli Kraus will start on the mound for Kent State. '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.