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Ohio Baseball Meets In-State Rival Dayton For Midweek Matchup

Ohio Baseball Meets In-State Rival Dayton For Midweek Matchup

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By Mike Ashcraft
OhioBobcats.com

Ohio at Dayton: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 | 3 p.m. ET | Woerner Field | Dayton, Ohio | StatBroadcast | Spectrum Sports/A-10 Network
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio TBD vs. Dayton TBD

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (19-20) makes the drive across the Buckeye State to meet in-state rival Dayton (10-25) on Tuesday (April 24) at Woerner Field. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.

The contest will be televised live on Spectrum Sports and streamed live on the A-10 Network. Spectrum Sports can be found on Spectrum channel 311/1311 HD across Ohio. For customers in east Columbus as well as Northern Kentucky, the game will air on channel 510/511 HD. Games broadcast on Spectrum Sports are subject to a live streaming blackout in the state of Ohio. 

MIDWEEK RECAP
The Bobcats are 2-4 in midweek matchups so far in 2018 entering Tuesday's contest against the Flyers.

Ohio dropped two midweek games to longtime rival Marshall last week. The Bobcats fell to the Thundering Herd, 6-2, last Tuesday (April 17) at Kennedy Center YMCA Field, then suffered a 7-6 setback on Wednesday (April 18) at Bob Wren Stadium.

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 sophomore left fielder Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.), 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 two weeks ago, falling at in-state rival Ohio State, 4-0, on 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 the following day. Junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) made clutch plays on both sides of the diamond in the victory over Shawnee State, 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.

#MACtion
Ohio owns a 7-8 record in Mid-American Conference play through the first five weeks of the league schedule, putting the Bobcats in a tie for sixth place with Ball State in the standings. The top six teams in the standings at the conclusion of the regular season will qualify for the 2018 MAC Championship will be held May 23-27 at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.

The Bobcats stunned rival Kent State by taking two of three on the road from the first-place Golden Flashes last weekend at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. Kent State won the series opener, 5-3, on Friday (April 20), but the Bobcats erased a 3-0 lead for the Golden Flashes in the top of the seventh and ultimately earned a 5-3 triumph in 12 innings on Saturday (April 21), with Klein coming through with a two-out, two-RBI double in the top of the 12th inning. In the Sunday (April 22) rubber match, for the second game in a row, Ohio erased a deficit going into the seventh inning, plating five runs in the top of the seventh on its way to earning a 6-4 victory. The Bobcats took a series from the Golden Flashes for the third time in the last four years and came away with a series victory at Kent for the second time in the last four years. Dating back to the 2015 season, Ohio is now 8-6 against Kent State.

Ohio's series win over Kent State helped snapped a season-long four-game overall losing streak and helped the Bobcats rebound from a stretch in which they lost four of six conference games.

The Bobcats lost two of three games in a hard-fought series against Eastern Michigan two weekends ago 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 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 Piechnick belted a two-run home in the bottom of the third inning to help the Bobcats edge the Eagles.

Ohio dropped two of three games three 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 first career game with at least four hits. 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. Toledo prevailed over Ohio in the final two games of the series, however. The Rockets put together a late rally to knock off the Bobcats, 3-2, on 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.

OHIO SWEEPS MAC WEEKLY AWARDS
Salisbury was named MAC Pitcher of the Week while Levy was named MAC Player of the Week as Ohio swept the conference's weekly awards, as announced by the league office on April 2.

Both garnered MAC weekly conference honors for the first times in their careers.

Salisbury enjoyed the best outing of his Ohio career in game one of a Saturday (March 31) doubleheader against Northern Illinois, striking out a career-high 11 while giving up just one unearned run on four hits and no walks over seven strong innings to set the tone for a five-run victory for the Bobcats. He earned the victory on the mound to improve to 3-4 on the season. Salisbury became the first Ohio pitcher to record double-digit strikeouts this season.

Levy put his power on display for Ohio, smashing a team-high three home runs and slugging a team-best .889. He also drove in a team-high eight runs, tied for second on the team with seven hits and ranked third on the squad with a .438 batting average. Levy smacked two home runs and tallied three RBIs in the extra-innings loss at Morehead State. He then went 2-for-4 with two runs scored as Ohio took game one of the Saturday twin bill from the Huskies. In the Sunday (April 1) rubber match, Levy smashed a three-run home run in the fourth inning and accounted for two hits and five RBIs total as the Bobcats topped Northern Illinois.

PRE-CONFERENCE REWIND
The Bobcats entered league play having won seven of their previous 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. Giannini led the way with a pair of home runs. Also going deep for the Bobcats were Piechnick, Klein and Sargent.

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

RU-DY, RU-DY
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 39 games in 2018, Rott leads the Bobcats in batting average (.361), slugging percentage (.620), on-base percentage (.449), hits (57), doubles (13), home runs (8), walks (23), RBIs (33) and runs scored (35). He leads the MAC in hits, ranks second in doubles, is tied for second in runs scored, ranks third in batting average and slugging percentage, is tied for third in home runs and ranks fifth in both on-base percentage. Rott leads the Bobcats in both multi-hit (17) and multi-RBI (10) games this season. He has hit safely in each of the last four games and has reached base safely in nine-straight games.

HIT PARADE
Ohio ranks as one of the MAC's top hitting teams. The Bobcats lead the league with 360 hits (100th in the country) and is tied for the conference lead with 34 home runs (tied for 55th in the country) and rank second with 212 runs scored (139th in the country) and 68 doubles (87th in the country), third with a .399 slugging percentage (110th in the country), tied for fourth with 159 walks (tied for 122nd in the country) and fifth with a .264 batting average (156th in the country).

Rott is one of seven Ohio players with at least 33 hits for the Bobcats this year. Piechnick is second on the team with 42 hits. He also ranks second on the team behind Rott with 12 multi-hit games, has reached base safely in each of the last nine games to tie for the second-longest current streak on the team with Rott and has hit safely in each of the last five games, which is tied with Klein for the longest current such streak on the team. Piechnick has tallied nine doubles this season, which is tied for second on the team, and ranks second on the team behind Rott with six home runs. His 19 RBIs are good for fith on the squad. Giannini is third on the squad with 40 hits -- including nine doubles, which matches Piechnick for second on the team. Garcia has logged 39 hits and is tied with Giannini for third on the team with 10 multi-hit games. Sophomore infielder Trevor Hafner has collected 35 hits to rank fifth on the team while Levy and Sargent are tied for sixth with 33 hits apiece. Sargent is third on the team with 21 RBIs while Hafner is fourth with 20. Levy is also third on the squad with five home runs and sixth with 18 RBIs.

SOLID PITCHING
Ohio owns a 4.07 team earned run average, which is second-best in the MAC.

Salisbury leads Ohio with 60.1 innings pitched and ranks first with 47 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) but has not appeared on the mound since suffering an injury three weekends ago at Toledo. Klein, who is 3-1 in 10 appearances and 33.0 innings of work on the mound (fifth-most on the team) is tied for seventh on the team with 17 strikeouts but has been limited on the mound due to suffering an injury at Bowling Green the first weekend of conference play. Sophomore lefty Derek Carr (Newark, Ohio), who has made fourt spot starts on the mound in place of both Klein and Baird, is 1-1 with with a 3.65 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 24.2 innings of work.

Several members of Ohio's bullpen have produced quality work for the Bobcats. Kamrada sports a 1.86 ERA over 19 appearances. Senior right-hander Logan Jacik (Omaha, Neb.) owns a 2.70 ERA in 13 appearances. Freshman left-hander Brett Manis (Port Huron, Mich.) has recorded a 2.89 ERA in 13 appearances while junior right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) has a 3.00 ERA in 14 appearances and 27 innings of work. Freshman righty Eddie Kutt (Westlake, Calif.) owns a 3.32 ERA in 20 relief appearances. His 38 innings pitched leads the Bobcats' bullpen and are good for third-most on the pitching staff, and his 33 strikeouts lead Ohio relievers and are also third-most on the pitching staff. Redshirt senior right-handed reliever Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) has made 21 appearances and four starts on the mound. He ranks fourth on the squad in both innings pitched (35.2) and strikeouts (28). Redshirt senior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has struck out 26 over 18 appearances and 23 innings of work, putting him fifth on the team in 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 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 BREAKS OHIO'S CAREER SAVES RECORD
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 MAC-high 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.

TURNING TWO
Ohio has turned 40 double plays so far in 2018, which is tops among MAC teams and ninth 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 26 of Ohio's twin killings and Hafner chipping in on 20.

BOBCATS PICKED TO FINISH FOURTH IN MAC
Ohio was 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

SCOUTING DAYTON
Dayton owns an overall record of 10-25 going into Tuesday's game against Ohio. The Flyers, who are 4-8 in Atlantic 10 Conference action, took two of three from St. Bonaventure over the weekend at home. Dayton won the opener on Friday, 7-4, was blanked on Saturday, 2-0, and bounced back to earn the series win on Sunday with a 12-0 triumph.

Jayson King is in his first season as the head coach at Dayton after serving as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Army. The Flyers went 20-35 in 2017 -- including 9-15 in conference play. Dayton was tabbed to finish 11th out of 13 teams in the Atlantic 10's preseason poll.

Dayton ranks fourth among Atlantic 10 teams with 24 home runs this season. Defensively, the Flyers have turned a conference-high 33 double plays (60th in the country) and own a .970 fielding percentage, which is good for fifth among league teams. Dayton's pitching staff has struggled, however, ranking last among Atlantic 10 teams in ERA (7.38), hits allowed per nine innings (11.87) and walks allowed per nine innings (4.76).

Junior infielder Pat Meehan is Dayton's top offensive threat, leading the Flyers in batting average (.291), slugging percentage (.511), hits (41), doubles (13) and runs scored (24). His 13 doubles rank third among Atlantic 10 hitters. He also ranks second on the team in home runs (6) and RBIs (23). Redshirt sophomore first baseman Brandon Smith has smacked a team-high seven home runs and has driven in a team-high 28 runs.

Ohio and Dayton will be meeting for the 66th time, with the Bobcats leading the all-time series over the Flyers, 52-13 (.800). Ohio is 2-2 against Dayton since Smith took over as head coach, but the Bobcats have taken each of the last two meetings between the teams. Ohio won at Dayton, 4-3, on April 12, 2016, then earned a 5-2 victory over the Flyers at Bob Wren Stadium on April 4, 2017. Piechnick tallied three hits -- including his first double and triple -- while seven pitchers combined to toss a three-hitter. Blessing  pitched 2.1 relief frames, striking out two and allowing two earned runs en route to the win. Roehn came on in the ninth to nail down the victory for the Bobcats. He struck out two and gave up a walk en route to his sixth save.

UP NEXT
Ohio looks to keep pace in the MAC race when it visits archrival Miami this weekend (April 27-29) at McKie Field at Hayden Park. '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.

#BleedGreen