Box Score (PDF)
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (6-18, 2-3 MAC) rolled to 12-2 victory over Bowling Green (9-13, 4-1 MAC) today at Bob Wren Stadium, evening the Mid-American Conference weekend series.
The Bobcats matched their season high with 12 runs scored and collected 13 hits -- including home runs by senior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.), junior catcher Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) and redshirt freshman left fielder Trevor Lukkes (Tustin, Calif.).
"This was, by a lot, our best offensive effort," said seventh-year head coach Rob Smith. "I don't think we've had as complete of an offensive day as we did today. We continued scoring throughout the game, found different ways to score. It was good. It was encouraging. Obviously, tomorrow is what matters. We've got to get tomorrow's game knocked out and try to win a series."
On the mound, redshirt freshman right-handed starting pitcher Jack Liberatore (Greensburg, Pa.) produced five strong innings, striking out six while permitting just one earned run on five hits and two walks. He earned the win to improve to 3-3 on the season. Liberatore has fanned at least six batters in four of his seven starts this year.
"He's just consistent," said Smith of Liberatore. "You know what you're going to get out of him. His floor has elevated in terms of, what is his worst day going to look like? He's shown what he can look like on his best days. He's very competitive. He stays within himself. He makes the team feel like every time he pitches, we've got a chance to win. That may look different in various ways, but, today, he did that again for us. Five solid innings. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win."
Ohio set the tone for the contest by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take control. Lukkes got things going by smacking a double down the left field line. One out later, Rott delivered a two-run home run down the left field line -- his team-high fourth home run of the season. Piechnick followed with a solo home run to left to make it a 3-0 lead for the Bobcats.
"That's big," said Smith of Ohio's start to the game. "That brings great energy to the game when you can score early like that, and, certainly, score on back-to-back home runs. That gives you a big lift and is certainly a confidence booster given the offensive challenges that we've had."
The Bobcats made it a 4-0 lead in the home half of the third. Lukkes led off with another double to left, then took third base on a balk by Bowling Green freshman right-handed pitcher Tyler Hays. After sophomore designated hitter Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio) drew a walk and stole second, Lukkes scored on a base hit to center by Rott.
Bowling Green got on the board in the fourth when senior shortstop Neil Lambert sent a one-out double down the right field line and scored one out later on a double to right by senior catcher Joe McGuinnes. The Bobcats answered right back, though, with two more runs in the bottom of the frame to extend their lead to 6-1. Redshirt freshman right fielder Cole Revels (Charlotte, N.C.) and junior third baseman Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio) hit back-to-back one-out singles through the left side. After Hafner stole second to put two in scoring position, Lukkes drew a walk to load up the bases. Levy coaxed a walk to bump across Revels, then Hafner scored on a wild pitch to make it a five-run lead for Ohio.
The Falcons got a run back in the top of the sixth when McGuinness belted a two-out solo homer to straightaway center. Ohio kept adding on, though, tacking on two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Hafner led off with a single to right, then stole second and took third on the same play on a throwing error by McGuinness. That set the table for Lukkes, who belted a two-run homer to left center to extend the Bobcats' advantage to 8-2.
Ohio recorded four more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Hafner led off with a single to center. One out later, Levy drew a walk, and he and Hafner both advanced 90 feet courtesy of a balk by Bowling Green freshman left-hander Jay Ward. Rott loaded up the bases for the Bobcats by drawing a walk. Piechnick was hit by a pitch, allowing Hafner to score. One out later, redshirt sophomore second baseman Michael Richardson (Cambridge, Md.) drew a walk to bring home Levy. The Bobcats scored their final two runs when sophomore shortstop Treyben Funderburg (Beavercreek, Ohio) beat out an infield single to short to plate Rott and redshirt freshman Jack Coney (Arlington Heights, Ill.), who was pinch running for Piechnick, scored on the same play when Bowling Green senior first baseman Cam Daugherty committed a throwing error.
Four Bobcats combined for 10 of Ohio's 13 hits. Lukkes finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, a walk, two RBIs and three runs scored. Hafner tallied three singles and scored three runs. Rott went 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk, three RBIs and two runs scored. Funderburg doubled and singled and drove in a run.
After Liberatore exited the game, sophomore righty Edward Kutt IV (Westlake, Calif.) struck out three over three innings of relief. He gave up one earned run on two hits an and a walk. Freshman right-hander Eamon Horwedel (Ann Arbor, Mich.) came on to pitch the ninth and retired the Falcons in order to lock up the victory for Ohio.
Bowling Green was led at the plate by McGuinness, who went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, two RBIs and a run scored. Junior center fielder Jake Wilson finished with a triple and a single.
Hays took the loss on the mound for the Falcons, dropping to 1-2 on the season. He struck out five but allowed six earned runs on seven hits and a walk in 3.1 innings.
"That's a very big win for our team," said Liberatore. "We needed to win today because we still have a chance to win the series tomorrow, and that's the most important part. Every week, I'm just trying to get better at whatever I've been struggling at. Big confidence boost today."
Ohio and Bowling Green will square off in the rubber match of the three-game MAC weekend series on Sunday (March 31). First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. The Bobcats will be going for their first conference series win of the 2019 season. The game marks another Sunday Funday, with all fans receiving free admission courtesy of OhioHealth.