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Ohio Baseball Defeated By Western Michigan In 2018 Home Finale

Ohio Baseball Defeated By Western Michigan In 2018 Home Finale

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By Mike Ashcraft

Box Score (PDF)

ATHENS, Ohio -- Sophomore catcher Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) hit a three-run home run, but the Ohio baseball (21-29, 9-15) could not withstand a late comeback by Western Michigan (22-23, 11-11 MAC), falling by a score of 10-6 on Sunday (May 13) at Bob Wren Stadium in the rubber match of a three-game Mid-American Conference weekend series.

The Broncos took two of three games in the league weekend set with the Bobcats. Western Michigan took the series opener, 7-6, on Friday (May 11), but Ohio bounced back with a 10-7 victory on Saturday (May 12).

Western Michigan opened Sunday's contest by taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when junior third baseman Jimmy Roche reached on an Ohio error with two outs, advanced to second when junior left fielder Nate Grys walked and then scored on a base hit through the left side by freshman right fielder Blake Dunn.

The Bobcats answered by taking a 4-1 lead in the home half of the first. Freshman center fielder Sebastian Fabik (Lebanon, Ohio) and junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) drew back-to-back one-out walks, setting the table for Piechnick to belt his eighth home run of the season to left. Redshirt senior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) followed by drawing a walk, then scored on a triple to left center by senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.). 

The Broncos cut Ohio's lead in half in the second when junior center fielder Conner Henderson took first on a two-out bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error on the play, then scored on a double to center by junior shortstop Connor Smith.

The Broncos then tied the game at four-all with two runs on two hits in the third. Roche led off with a double to center, then scored on a triple to center by Grys to make it a one-run game Grys tagged up from third and scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly to center by Dunn.

Ohio regained the lead in the fifth when Fabik was hit by a pitch to lead the frame off, advanced to second on a base hit through the left side by Piechnick, moved to third on a wild pitch and then tagged up and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Klein. The Bobcats' lead then swelled to 6-4 in the sixth when redshirt sophomore right fielder Ryan Sargent (Algonquin, Ill.) beat out a leadoff bunt single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior left fielder Evan Bourn (Overland Park, Kan.) and then scored on a base hit to left by freshman second baseman Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Western Michigan completely swung the momentum of the contest in the seventh, however, plating five runs on five hits. Redshirt freshman first baseman Logan Hudson hit a two-RBI single, sophomore second baseman Drew Devine, Smith hit an RBI double and redshirt junior designated hitter Andrew Stone hit an RBI single. The Broncos then tacked on an insurance line in the ninth when Hudson hit a one-out double to left center and then scored one out later on a double to left by Smith.

Redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) took the loss on the mound for Ohio, falling to 3-4 on the season. He gave up three earned runs on four hits.

Five Broncos posted multi-hit performances. Smith went 3-for-6 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored. Hudson finished 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored. Grys went 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk, an RBI and a run scored. Dunn finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Stone collected a pair of singles and drove in a run. 

Redshirt senior right-hander Jimmy Townsend-Chase earned the win on mound for Western Michigan, improving to 1-2 on the year. He gave up two earned runs on four hits over three innings. Sophomore righty Zach Mehelich picked up his first save of the season, striking out four over three scoreless innings while giving up just one walk and no hits.

Prior to Sunday's game, which marked the final home game of the 2018 season for the Bobcats, Ohio honored the career of its 10 seniors -- left-handed pitcher Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio), Blessing, Bourn, catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Giannini, right-handed pitcher Logan Jacik (Omaha, Neb.), Klein, right-handed pitcher Josh Petersen (Deshler, Ohio), right-handed pitcher Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) and left-handed pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio). 

Ohio closes out the 2018 regular season with a trip to Mount Pleasant, Mich., next weekend (May 17-19) for a three-game MAC series against Central Michigan.