$restriction.code /sports/bsb/2017-18/releases/20180516m6lmlr

Ohio Baseball Closes Out 2018 Regular Season At Central Michigan

Ohio Baseball Closes Out 2018 Regular Season At Central Michigan

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By Mike Ashcraft
OhioBobcats.com

Ohio vs. Central Michigan Game 1: Thursday, May 17, 2018 | 3:05 p.m. ET | Theunissen Stadium | Mount Pleasant, Mich. | WOUB 1340 AM Radio Broadcast | CSN Digital ($) | Gametracker
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio R-Sr. LHP Gerry Salisbury vs. Central Michigan Jr. RHP Dazon Cole

Ohio vs. Central Michigan Game 2: Friday May 18, 2018 | 3:05 p.m. ET | Theunissen Stadium | Mount Pleasant, Mich. | WOUB 1340 AM Radio Broadcast | CSN Digital ($) | Gametracker
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio R-Sr. RHP Michael Klein vs. Central Michigan Jr. RHP Michael Brettell 

Ohio vs. Central Michigan Game 3: Saturday, May 19, 2018 | 2:05 p.m. ET | Theunissen Stadium | Mount Pleasant, Mich. | WOUB 1340 AM Radio Broadcast | CSN Digital ($) | Gametracker
Probable Starting Pitchers: Ohio TBD vs. Central Michigan Fr. RHP Logan Buczkowski

ATHENS, Ohio --
 The Ohio baseball team (21-29, 9-15 MAC) looks to finish strong as the 2018 regular season comes to a close this weekend with a three-game Mid-American Conference series against Central Michigan (23-28-1) at Theunissen Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

The series opener is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET on Thursday (May 17). Game two is slated for 3:05 p.m. ET on Friday (May 18). The Saturday (May 19) regular season finale is set to get underway at 2:05 p.m. ET.

'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein will have the call of the action on WOUB 1340 AM and online on OhioBobcats.com via Stretch Internet. The contests will also be streamed live by CSN Digital ($).

#MACtion
The Bobcats enter week nine of MAC play in eighth place in the league standings and in need of a series sweep to keep their hopes of qualifying for the league tournament alive. 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 also require help in order to qualify for the conference tournament, needing both Western Michigan (at third-place Ball State) and Toledo (vs. 10th-place Bowling Green) to be swept in order to keep their postseason dreams alive.

Ohio has won two of its previous eight conference series this year.

The Bobcats stunned rival Kent State by taking two of three on the road from the first-place Golden Flashes three weekends ago 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 two of three games from Northern Illinois on the second weekend of MAC play 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.

Junior infielder Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) has been Ohio's top hitter in conference play, sporting a team-best .367 batting average, a team-best .684 slugging percentage and a team-best .434 on-base percentage to go along with a team-high 36 hits -- including a team-high eight doubles and seven home runs -- to go along with a team-high 26 RBIs and 24 runs scored. Sophomore catcher/outfielder Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) ranks second on the squad in batting average (.326), slugging percentage (.568), on-base percentage (.396), hits (31), doubles (6), home runs (5), RBIs (18) and 21 runs scored.

Redshirt senior right-hander Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) has been strong out of the bullpen for Ohio in MAC play, going 2-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 14 appearances and 28 innings of work. He has struck out 28 while giving up just nine earned runs on 23 hits and 10 walks.

ROTT GARNERS BOTH NATIONAL AND CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
Rott earned both national and conference player of the week recognition on Monday (May 14) for his efforts for Ohio last week.

Rott was named one of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's National Players of the Week and also garnered MAC Player of the Week honors.

Rott becomes the second Bobcat to be named MAC Player of the Week in 2018, joining freshman infielder Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio), who was recognized on April 2, in earning such honors. He earns conference player of the week accolades for the third time in his Ohio career, as he earned such distinction twice in his sophomore season of 2017.

Rott put his power on full display last week for Ohio, leading the Bobcats in batting average (.444), slugging percentage (1.111), hits (8), home runs (4), RBIs (9), runs scored (8) and home runs (4) over four games. Rott opened the week going 2-for-5 with a pair of homers, four RBIs and two runs scored in a 10-9 loss to in-state rival Youngstown State last Tuesday (May 9) at Bob Wren Stadium. He then  finished 2-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored as Ohio fell to Western Michigan, 7-6, in the opening game of a three-game MAC series at The Wren last Friday (May 11). Rott helped the Bobcats best the Broncos, 10-7, on Saturday (May 12), going 3-for-4 with his team-high 15th home run of 2018, a walk, two RBIs and three runs scored. His homer marked his seventh over a span of seven-straight games and marked the fourth game in a row he went deep. The contest also marked his team-high 24th multi-hit game of the season, team-high 15th multi-RBI game of the year and team-high eighth with at least three hits. Rott's homer streak ended on Sunday (May 13) in a 10-6 loss to Western Michigan in the series rubber match, but he still singled, walked and scored a run and extended his current hitting streak to eight-straight games.

Through 50 games in 2018, Rott leads the Bobcats in batting average (.373), slugging percentage (.686), on-base percentage (.454), hits (76), doubles (15), home runs (15), walks (28), RBIs (49) and runs scored (48). He leads the MAC in batting average and hits and is tied for the lead in home runs, ranks second in slugging percentage and RBIs and is tied for second in doubles and ranks third in on-base percentage. His 140 total bases are a conference-high and rank 10th in the nation.

OHIO SWEEPS MAC WEEKLY AWARDS
Redshirt senior left-handed starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) 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.

MIDWEEK RECAP
The Bobcats went 2-6 in midweek matchups in 2018. Ohio belted four home runs -- including two by Rott -- but fell to in-state rival Youngstown State (15-31) in a 10-9 slugfest on Wednesday (May 9) at Bob Wren Stadium. Ohio's four round trippers marked the third time this year the squad has smacked at least four dingers in a game. In addition to Rott's two bombs, senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) smacked his third home run of the season while freshman designated hitter Noah Weiner (Murrysville, Pa.) cracked his first career home run.

On April 24, Ohio fell to in-state rival Dayton, 6-3, at Woerner Field in Dayton, Ohio.

Ohio dropped two midweek games to longtime rival Marshall the previous week. The Bobcats fell to the Thundering Herd, 6-2, on April 17 at Kennedy Center YMCA Field, then suffered a 7-6 setback the following day 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 Ohio in the win over the Panthers. Giannini led the way with a pair of home runs. Also going deep for the Bobcats were Piehchnick, 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 the second week of April, 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. Rott 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.

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.

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.

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.

HIT PARADE
Ohio ranks as one of the MAC's top hitting teams. The Bobcats lead the conference with 46 home runs (52nd) in the country), rank fourth with a .395 slugging percentage (132nd in the country) and fifth with 81 doubles (146th in the country) and 204 walks (127th in the country).

Rott is one of seven Ohio players with at least 39 hits for the Bobcats this year. Giannini and Piechnick are tied for second on the team with 50 hits and are also tied for second with 11 doubles. Piechnick also ranks second in both home runs (8), RBIs (26) and runs scored (34). Junior outfielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) has logged 44 hits to rank fourth on the squad. Sophomore infielder Trevor Hafner and Levy have both collected 42 hits to tie for fifth on the team. Levy is also third on the team with five home runs and ranks fifth with 21 RBIs. Sargent is seventh on the team with 35 and ranks fourth with 21 RBIs. Sargent is seventh on the team with 39 and ranks fourth with 24 RBIs.

SOLID PITCHING
Ohio owns a 4.47 team earned run average, which is third-best in the MAC.

Salisbury leads Ohio with 73.2 innings pitched and also ranks first with 58 strikeouts. Senior left-hander Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) is third on the team with 40 strikeouts and is fifth with 42.1 innings pitched. Klein, who is 4-1 in 13 appearances  -- including 11 starts -- and 47 innings of work on the mound (third-most on the team), is sixth on the team with 27 strikeouts but has been limited on the mound due to suffering an injury at Bowling Green the first weekend of conference play. Also serving as both a designated hitter and playing the outfield, Klein ranks fourth on the team with four home runs and second with 29 RBIs. Sophomore lefty Derek Carr (Newark, Ohio), who has made five starts on the mound in place of both Klein and Baird, is 1-1 with with a 3.90 ERA and 27 strikeouts over 31.1 innings of work.

Several members of Ohio's bullpen have produced quality work for the Bobcats. Jacik owns a 2.12 ERA in 18 appearances. Redshirt junior righty Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) sports a 2.81 ERA over 25 appearances. Blessing has made 28 appearances and four starts on the mound, owning a 3.47 ERA. He ranks fourth on the squad in innings pitched (46.2) and second in strikeouts (41) and has issued just 10 walks. Freshman righty Eddie Kutt (Westlake, Calif.) owns a 3.72 ERA in 26 appearances and two starts. His 48.1 innings pitched are good for second-most on the pitching staff, and his 39 strikeouts also rank as the fourth-most on the pitching staff. Junior right-hander Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.) has a 4.09 ERA in 18 appearances and 33 innings of work. Freshman left-hander Brett Manis (Port Huron, Mich.) has recorded a 4.38 ERA in 17 appearances. Redshirt senior right-handed closer Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) has struck out 32 over 23 appearances and 29.2 innings of work, putting him fifth on the team in strikeouts. He owns a 4.25 ERA.

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 a Saturday (April 14) 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, earning his sixth save of the season as the Bobcats bested the Eagles, 5-4.

Roehn picked up his seventh save of the year and program-record 29th of his career in a 4-3 win over Miami on April 27 in Oxford, Ohio. After forcing the RedHawks to strand two runners in the eighth, he retired the side in the ninth, ending the contest with back-to-back strikeouts. He is currently tied for the MAC lead with seven saves.

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 46 double plays so far in 2018, which is tied for the MAC lead and tied for 30th 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 32 of Ohio's twin killings and Hafner chipping in on 25.

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 CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Central Michigan is currently fourth in the MAC standings going into the final weekend of league play. The Chippewas suffered their second-straight MAC series loss last weekend, dropping two of three to Miami in Oxford, Ohio. Central Michigan won the opener, 6-2, last Friday, but lost the final two games of the set by scores of 4-2 and 13-8. On Tuesday (May 15), the Chippewas rolled to a 13-2 victory over in-state rival Michigan State in Mount Pleasant.

Steve Jaksa has been the head coach at Central Michigan since 2003.

Ohio was swept at home by Central Michigan last year. The Bobcats suffered a tough 6-2 loss in 12 innings in the series opener and first game of a doubleheader on April 8, 2017, at The Wren, lost game two of the twin bill, 10-8, then dropped the series finale by a score of 4-2 the following day. Ohio last visited Central Michigan in 2015, dropping two of three. The Bobcats won the opener, 6-4, but dropped the next two games by scores of 9-3 and 4-0.

Central Michigan's offense ranks first in the MAC in on-base percentage (.391) and walks (266), is tied for second in hits (470), ranks third in runs (309). The Chippewas are last in home runs, however, hitting just 11 so far this year. Sophomore infielder Zach Heeke leads Central Michigan with a .331 batting average, a MAC-best .500 on-base percentage and 51 hits. Redshirt freshman catcher Griffin Lockwood-Powell owns a team-best .458 slugging percentage, is tied for second on the team with 47 hits with freshman catcher/infielder Zavier Warren and ranks second on the team with 34 RBIs. Lockwood-Powell is also tied with junior outfielder Daniel Robinson for the team lead four home runs. Robinson has driven in a team-high 36 runs and has scored a team-high 40 runs.

The Chippewas' pitching staff ranks fourth in the MAC with a 4.69 ERA, third with 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings and fourth with 8.84 hits allowed per nine innings. Junior right-hander Michael Brettell, who is scheduled to start on the mound for Central Michigan on Friday, has thrown a team-high 82.1 innings and ranks second on the squad with 65 strikeouts.

UP NEXT
The 2018 MAC Championship will be held May 23-27 at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio. 

#BleedGreen