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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (17-19, 3-6 MAC) plays host to a big Mid-American Conference East Division series this weekend as archrival Miami (15-23, 2-7 MAC) visits Bob Wren Stadium for the second year in a row.
The series opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on Friday (Apri 21). Game two is slated for a 3 p.m. ET start on Saturday (April 22). The Sunday (April 23) series finale is set for a 1 p.m. ET first pitch.
The weekend series is being promoted as 'Bark In The Park', with fans being invited to bring their dogs to the games. The first 250 fans through the gates will receive a free t-shirt on Friday. Saturday will celebrate 'Professors at the Park', with all Ohio faculty/staff receiving two free admissions by presenting their university IDs. Addition tickets will be $5. The series finale will mark another 'Sunday Funday', with all fans receiving free admission courtesy of OhioHealth. Kids will also have the opportunity to run the bases at Bob Wren Stadium following the game.
'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein will have the call of all three games on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Ohio R-Jr. LHP #8 Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) vs. Miami So. RHP #17 Shane Smith | Gametracker
Saturday: Ohio TBD vs. Miami So. LHP #22 Zach Spears | Gametracker
Sunday: Ohio TBD vs. Miami Fr. RHP Grant Hartwig | Gametracker
ROTT DELIVERS WALK-OFF HOME RUN IN 10TH TO POWER BOBCATS TO WIN OVER MARSHALL
Sophomore first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) delivered a one-out, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to push Ohio to a thrilling 11-10 victory over longtime rival Marshall on Wednesday (April 19) in a neutral-site matchup at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio.
The Bobcats evened the season series with the Thundering Herd with the victory. Marshall beat Ohio, 12-9, last Wednesday (April 12) in Huntington, W. Va. The two teams will meet again on May 9 in a 6 p.m. ET matchup at Bob Wren Stadium in Athens.
Ohio and Marshall combined for 27 hits -- including a whopping eight home runs -- in the wild extra-inning affair. The Bobcats belted a season-high five round trippers in the victory and have gone deep 14 times over the last five contests.
The Thundering Herd rallied back from a 9-5 lead entering the seventh inning and evened the score at nine-all in the top of the ninth. Marshall then took the lead, 10-9, in the top of the 10th.
The Thundering Herd's lead was shorted lived, though. Senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) led off the bottom of the frame with a home run to center to even the score -- his second dinger of the game and team-high ninth of the season. He has now homered in three-straight games and four of the last five contests for the Bobcats. One out later, Rott came through with the game-winning homer -- his seventh round tripper of the year. The reigning MAC East Division Player of the Week has gone deep five times in the last three games.
Senior catcher Anthony Mrosla (Coon Rapids, Minn.) led the Ohio bats with a 3-for-4 effort that included his first two career home runs as a Bobcat, a walk and four RBIs. Ibarra finished 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs while Rott went 2-for-4 with two walks, an RBI and two runs scored. Ibarra leads the Bobcats with 14 multi-hit games while Rott has tallied 11, which is tied for second on the team.
BOBCATS SUFFER SWEEP AT EASTERN MICHIGAN
Ohio enters the weekend series against Miami having dropped six-straight MAC games after suffering a sweep at the hands of West Division foe Eastern Michigan last weekend at Oestrike Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The Bobcats fell to the Eagles, 8-2, last Friday (April 14) in the series opener. Eastern Michigan then tallied a 12-9 triumph on Saturday (April 15) to secure the series win, then swept the weekend with a 12-11 walk-off win on Sunday (April 16).
IBARRA OFF TO STRONG START
Through 36 games in 2017, Ibarra leads the Bobcats with a .322 batting average, a .566 slugging percentage, a .393 on-base percentage, 46 hits, nine home runs and 29 runs scored. He also ranks second on the team with 25 RBIs and 13 walks and is tied for second on the squad with six doubles.
Ibarra has been named MAC East Division Player of the Week twice in 2017, with his most recent honor coming on April 4. He helped Ohio start MAC play 3-0 for the first time since 1997 with his effort at the plate, leading the Bobcats in batting average (.462), slugging percentage (.615), hits (6), doubles (2) and runs scored (4). He also drove in three runs. Ibarra opened the week by going 3-for-4 in a 3-0 loss at Ohio State on March 28 in Columbus. He then went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored in the 6-4 win over Ball State in the opening game of a doubleheader on April 1. Ibarra finished the series by going 1-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in a 7-4 win in the second game of the twin bill, then going 1-for-2 with a pair of stolen bases in the 10-0 blowout of the Cardinals in the finale on April 2 that clinched the series sweep for the Bobcats.
Ohio's 0.985 team fielding percentage ranks second in the nation entering this weekend's series. The Bobcats have committed just 21 errors in 36 games.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded four shutout victories in 36 games in 2017 after posting just one in 52 games in '16.
The tone for the Bobcats' success on the mound has been set up by the starting pitchers. Redshirt junior righty Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) is 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA (second-best in the MAC) and is third on the team lead with 40 strikeouts over 43.2 innings. He has given up just 13 earned runs and 15 walks. Junior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) sports a 4-1 record, fanning 41 over a team-high 48.2 innings to rank second on the squad in both strikeouts and innings pitched. He was named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week on March 6 after helping Ohio come away with a weekend series win at Western Kentucky thanks to his performance on the mound on March 4 in a 3-0 shutout victory at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Ky. He improved to 2-0 on the bump, tossing 6.2 frames and striking out two while allowing four hits and two walks in his third start as the Bobcats blanked the Hilltoppers. Redshirt junior left-hander Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) leads the team with 42 strikeouts and has thrown a team-high 49.0 innings on the mound.
Redshirt junior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has made 17 appearances out of the bullpen, fanning 27 in 24.2 innings while allowing just six earned runs. He leads the MAC with seven saves in 2017, which matches his career high and brings his career total to 14, which ranks as the third-most in program history. He was named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week for the first time in his career on Feb. 27 after picking up both wins on the mound out of the bullpen in a 6-4 win over SIU Edwardsville on Feb. 25 and a 2-1 win in 13 innings over the Cougars the following day. He did not allow a run in five innings of relief and struck out eight while giving up just three hits and one walk over the two victories. Redshirt sophomore right-hander Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) owns a 2.08 ERA over 11 appearances and 17.1 frames of work. Moving to the bullpen after spending the last three seasons as a starting pitcher, senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) is fourth on the squad with 38 strikeouts over 26.1 innings of relief. Redshirt junior righty Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) has fanned 34 in 14 appearances and 27.2 innings. He sports a 3.58 ERA, and he is fifth on the team in strikeouts. Senior southpaw Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) has made 17 relief appearances and sports a 3.24 ERA. Senior righty Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.) leads the team with a MAC-high 20 appearances out of the bullpen while sophomore right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) ranks second on the team with 18. Colletti has fanned 27 strikeouts in 29.0 innings of work.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving as the No. 3 pitcher in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein is second on the team in hits (41) and tied for second in doubles (6) while ranking third in slugging percentage (.415), home runs (4), RBIs (20) and tied for third in runs scored (21).
On Feb. 20, Klein was named MAC East Division Player of the Week. He put together a huge weekend for Ohio to help the Bobcats come away victorious in three of four games in Lexington, S.C., on the first weekend of the 2017 regular season. Klein led the team in batting average (.400), slugging percentage (.867), hits (6), home runs (2), RBIs (5) and total bases (13).
RU-DY, RU-DY, RU-DY
Rott returns after a stellar freshmen season. Rott was one of just four Bobcat position players to play in all 52 of Ohio's games during the 2016 season, starting 51 of them.
Rott excelled at the plate for the Bobcats, ranking second on the team in RBIs (39), on-base percentage (.406) and doubles (13) and third in batting average (.319) and home runs (3). He tied for the team lead with 14 multi-RBI games -- including a team-high four outings with at least three RBIs. He also tied for second with 12 multi-hit games
Rott complemented his offensive prowess with quality defense. In 484 defensive chances, he committed just three errors, accumulating a fielding percentage of .940, which tied for the best on the team among players with more than 50 chances. Rott also helped the Bobcats turn two more than any other player on the squad, contributing on 39 double plays.
Rott was named to the 2016 Louisville Slugger All-Freshman Team for his efforts.
Through 36 games in 2017, Rott leads the leads the Bobcats with 29 RBIs and nine doubles, ranks second on the team with a .496 slugging percentage, a .373 on-base percentage, a career-high seven home runs and 25 runs scored and tied for third with 40 hits.
Rott was named MAC East Division Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Monday (April 17) after putting together a monster week at the plate for Ohio, batting .429 with a team-best 1.190 slugging percentage and recording a team-high nine hits -- including a team-high five home runs -- to go along with a team-high 13 RBIs and seven runs scored, which tied for the team lead. Rott opened the week by going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored last Tuesday (April 11) in a 6-5 victory at Youngstown State. The following day at Marshall, he tallied his second home run of the season. Rott then came up with two huge performances in the final two games of a three-game set at MAC West Division foe Eastern Michigan. On Saturday (April 15), he went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs and six RBIs. Rott closed the week out by providing the Bobcats with three hits -- including a pair of home runs -- and driving in six runs for the second game in a row in the Sunday (April 16) series finale.
LOOKING TO FINISH STRONG
A four-year starter for the Bobcats, senior infielder Ty Black (Waynesville, Ohio) is looking to finish his career at Ohio at a high note. He is currently tied for third on the squad with 40 hits and ranks fourth in RBIs (19) and fifth in slugging percentage (.361).
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THEIR OPPORTUNITIES
Senior infielder Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) and redshirt junior catcher Nick Bredeson (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) are both taking advantage of increased playing time for the Bobcats in 2017.
Callery has started 34 of the 35 games he's played in this year, ranking fourth on the team with a .280 batting average and fifth with 35 hits and 17 runs scored. Bredeson has made 19 starts in 26 games played, ranking second in batting average (.306), third in on-base percentage (.366) and fourth in slugging percentage (.412).
THREAT TO STEAL
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) has stolen 13 bases in 15 attempts in 2017 to set a new career high.
Finkler is tied for third on the team in runs scored (20) and ranks fifth in RBIs (18). Defensively, he owns a .984 fielding percentage and has logged a team-high 121 assists.
Rob Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 101 games at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a MAC tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
The Bobcats have totaled 44 MAC victories during Smith's tenure as head coach.
OHIO PICKED THIRD IN MAC EAST
Ohio was picked to finish third in the East Division according to the 2017 MAC Preseason Poll, as announced by the league office on Feb. 16. The preseason poll was voted on by the league's 11 head coaches.
The Bobcats garnered 44 points overall. Kent State was tabbed as the top team in the MAC East Division with nine first-place votes. The Golden Flashes totaled 61 points overall. Miami was picked to finish second in the East Division, tallying 56 points and receiving one first-place vote. Bowling Green (32 points; one first-place vote) and Buffalo (27 points) rounded out the MAC East predicted order of finish.
Ball State totaled 57 points overall and five first-place votes to earn the distinction of being the predicted winner of the MAC West Division. Central Michigan (49 points; two first-place votes), Toledo (36 points; one first-place vote), Northern Illinois (32 points; two first-place votes), Western Michigan (31 points; one first-place vote) and Eastern Michigan (26 points) were picked to finish behind the Cardinals.
The Golden Flashes garnered four votes to win the 2016 MAC tournament title while Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Miami, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan all received a vote to win the league's tournament crown.
ROEHN SHINES IN RETURN
Roehn sported a team-best 2.18 ERA and led the Bobcats with seven saves in 2016 after missing the 2015 campaign due to an injury. He fanned 43 over 23 appearances and 45.1 innings of work while surrendering just 11 earned runs on 42 hits and nine walks. His seven saves in 2016 tie him with Doug Stackhouse (1983) for the fourth-most in a single season in program history.
On Feb. 13, Roehn was named to the 2017 Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List, as announced by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Ohio is 4-8 against Miami in the Smith era. The Bobcats met the RedHawks in the final series of the 2016 season at The Wren. Ohio fell in the series opener on May 19, then split a doubleheader the following day, bouncing back from a 4-0 loss in the opening contest of the twin bill with a 6-2 triumph in the season finale.
The RedHawks are in year four under head coach Danny Hayden. Miami rides a seven-game winning streak into this weekend's series, most recently sweeping the Joe Nuxhall Classic in Cincinnati, following up a 4-3 victory over Wright State on Tuesday (April 18) with a 12-6 win over Xavier the following day. The RedHawks dropped two of three games to MAC West Division foe Eastern Michigan (April 7-9) in Oxford, Ohio, in their most recent conference series. Miami bounced back from a 7-5 loss in 10 innings in the opener with a 6-2 win to even the series but dropped the rubber match, 10-6.
Redshirt senior infielder Adam Yacek is batting a team-best .331 and leads Miami with 14 doubles. Redshirt junior infielder Ross Haffey leads the RedHawks with 48 hits -- including a team-high eight home runs -- to go along with a team-high 26 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Shane Smith boasts a 3.81 ERA for the RedHawks -- tops among Miami starting pitchers -- and has thrown a team-high 49.2 innings. Senior righty Brad Schwartz has struck out a team-high 45 batters, and sophomore southpaw Zach Spears is right behind him with 44 strikeouts. Sophomore right-hander Nick Ernst has logged a team-high three saves in 14 appearances out of the bullpen.
Ohio returns to the road next weekend for a three-game series in Kalamazoo, Mich., against MAC West Division foe Western Michigan. The series opener is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET next Friday (April 28) at Robert J. Bobb Stadium at Hyames Field. The Saturday (April 29) and Sunday (April 30) matchups are both set for 1 p.m. ET starts.