ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (13-12, 2-3 MAC) opened its 2018 home schedule by splitting a Saturday (March 31) Mid-American Conference doubleheader with Northern Illinois (8-17, 2-3 MAC) at Bob Wren Stadium. The Bobcats beat the Huskies, 6-1, in game one behind a dominant performance on the mound by redshirt senior left-handed starting pitcher Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) but dropped a tough 6-5 affair in 10 innings in game two.
Salisbury put together the best outing of his Ohio career, striking out a career-high 11 while giving up just one unearned run on four hits and no walks over seven strong innings, improving to 3-4 on the year and setting the tone for the Bobcats' five-run victory. He became the first Ohio pitcher to record double-digit strikeouts this season.
Offensively, Ohio pounded out 11 hits, with three Bobcats recording multi-hit efforts. Sophomore shortstop Trevor Hafner (Perrysburg, Ohio) went 3-for-4 with an RBI, posting his seventh multi-hit game of the year and second with at least three hits. Sophomore left fielder Tanner Piechnick (Canonsburg, Pa.) finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. He recorded his eighth multi-hit contest of the year and second multi-RBI game of the season. Freshman second baseman Aaron Levy (Cincinnati, Ohio) collected his fourth multi-hit game of the season, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Northern Illinois grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning when redshirt junior first baseman Ty Jandrowski led off with a single to center and scored from third two outs later on an Ohio error. The Bobcats took advantage of free bases with two outs in the home half of the frame, though, to even the score. Redshirt senior designated hitter Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) coaxed a two-out walk, and junior first baseman Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) followed by drawing a walk of his own. Piechnick then came through with a base hit to left that scored Klein, knotting the score at one-all.
The Bobcats seized control in the ensuing frame as Levy led off with a base hit to right and scored two outs later when Hafner beat out an infield single to short.
Ohio made it a five-run ballgame in the bottom of the fifth. Klein got things started by drawing a leadoff walk. Rott followed with a single through the right side to put runners on the corners. Piechnick then drove in Klein with a single to right center. One out later, Levy loaded up the bases for the Bobcats with a single to right. Redshirt sophomore right fielder Ryan Sargent (Algonquin, Ill.) cashed in on the opportunity by smacking a two-RBI single to left center to plate Rott and Piechnick. Levy then scored Ohio's sixth run when he crossed home plate by way of an RBI fielder's choice that put redshirt freshman catcher Dan McCauley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) on base.
Salisbury stole the show, though, retiring the side in four of his seven frames on the mound. Freshman right-handed reliever Eddie Kutt (Westlake, Calif.) tossed two scoreless frames, striking out one while giving up two hits. He also did not permit a walk.
Senior third baseman Brad Wood accounted for the only multi-hit effort for Northern Illinois, tallying two doubles.
Junior right-handed starting pitcher Tanner Foster took the loss on the mound for the Huskies, falling to 1-3 on the season. He surrendered six earned runs on 11 hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. He fanned four. Senior southpaw George Faue threw 3.1 innings of relief. He stuck out three and did not allow a hit or a walk.
Ohio opened the scoring in the second game of the twin bill by plating a pair of runs in the home half of the first. Rott reached base on a two-out error by the Huskies, then scored on a double to left by Piechnick. Senior third baseman Tony Giannini (Carmel, Ind.) doubled home Piechnick on a ball hit to left, giving the Bobcats a quick 2-0 edge.
Sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Derek Carr (Newark, Ohio) forced Northern Illinois to strand two runners on base in each of the first three innings, but the Huskies broke through in the fourth, cutting Ohio's lead down to one. Redshirt freshman first baseman Kam Smith sent a leadoff double to left, then scored from third after he tagged up from second and advanced 90 feet on a fly out to left by freshman designated hitter Connor Montgomery and then raced home on a throwing error by the Bobcats on the play.
Northern Illinois tied the score at two-all in the ensuing inning. Senior center fielder Scooter Bynum, sophomore catcher Jake Dunham and Smith coaxed back-to-back-to-back one-out walks to load up the bases for the Huskies. One out later, Bynum scored on a wild pitch to knot things up for the Huskies.
The Huskies then took a 3-2 lead in the seventh with some two-out hitting. Dunham smacked a two-out single up the middle, and Smith followed with a base hit to right. Dunham then scored from third when Smith got caught in a rundown.
After going five-straight innings without a hit, the Bobcats' bats finally awoke eighth to help Ohio tie the game back up. Junior center fielder Devon Garcia (Bowling Green, Ohio) got the frame started by beating out an infield single. After advancing to second on a balk by Northern Illinois freshman right-handed starting pitcher Michael Lasiewicz and to third on a fly out to center by Klein, Garcia raced home on a passed ball to even things up at three-all.
The ninth inning saw both the Bobcats and the Huskies strand a runner on base, sending the contest to extra innings.
Unfortunately for Ohio, Northern Illinois took advantage of some two-out lightning to grab a 6-3 advantage in the top of the 10th. Dunham led off the frame with a single to center. Two outs later, redshirt sophomore right fielder Josh Mutter was hit by a pitch, and Northern Illinois opted to lift Dunham in favor of freshman pinch runner Tommy Washington. After Wood drew a walk to load up the bases, senior left fielder/catcher Joe Jumonville delivered a two-RBI single to center to bring around both Washington and Mutter. Wood then scored when sophomore shortstop Tommy Szczasny hit a single to center.
Despite finding themselves down by three runs, the Bobcats did not quit. McCauley was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the 10th. Garcia followed with a single to left, and Klein loaded up the bases with nobody out when he drew a walk. Rott then delivered a single back up the middle that scored McCauley and Garcia and cut Ohio's deficit to one. Klein was thrown out attempting to advance to third on a close play at the bag, however, for the first out. Redshirt senior right-handed reliever Andrew Frankenreider was then able to get a fly out and a ground out to end the game.
Garcia was the lone Bobcat to record a multi-hit outing, recording a triple and two singles while scoring two runs. Rott extended his current hitting streak to a team season-high 13 games. Piechnick extended his hitting streak to six games, which currently ranks second on the squad behind Rott.
Redshirt senior right-handed reliever Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) suffered the loss on the mound for Ohio, giving up three earned runs on four hits and a walk in 1.2 innings to fall to 1-2 on the year. He struck out four.
Szczasny and Dunham each tallied three singles to lead the Huskies at the plate. Szczasny also walked and drove in a run. Smith finished 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored.
Frankenreider picked up the pitching victory for the Huskies. He improved to 1-1 on the season after striking out two while permitting two earned runs on three hits and a walk over 2.1 frames of relief. Lasiewicz worked the first 7.2 innings, striking out five while allowing three unearned runs on four hits and two walks.
Ohio will go for its first MAC series win of the 2018 season on Sunday (April 1) when it takes on Northern Illinois in a 1 p.m. ET matchup. Senior southpaw Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) is scheduled to get the start on the mound for the Bobcats in the rubber match.