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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball team (9-6) continues its eight-game homestand by welcoming Siena (3-10) for three games over two days this weekend at Bob Wren Stadium.
The Bobcats will play the Saints in a Saturday (March 18) doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Ohio and Siena conclude the weekend set on Sunday (March 19) in a noon ET matchup. The series finale will mark the first 'Sunday Funday' of the 2017 season, 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.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Saturday Game 1: Ohio R-Jr. LHP #8 Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) vs. Siena So. LHP #42 Tommy Miller | Gametracker
Saturday Game 2: Ohio Jr. LHP #11 Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) vs. Siena Fr. RHP #31 Brendan White | Gametracker
Sunday: Ohio R-Jr. RHP #27 Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) vs. Siena Sr. RHP #24 Chris Amorosi | Gametracker
BOBCATS OPEN 2017 HOME SCHEDULE WITH WIN OVER SHAWNEE STATE
Six pitchers combined to give up just one run on three hits and four walks while senior center fielder Spencer Ibarra (Fort Collins, Colo.) belted his second home run of the year Ohio opened its 2017 home schedule with a 9-1 win over NAIA Shawnee State on Thursday (March 16) at Bob Wren Stadium.
The Bobcats plated runs in four of the first five innings as Ohio pounded out 12 hits. Four Bobcats enjoyed multi-hit days.
Senior second baseman Mateus Vakuda (Sao Paulo, Brazil) finished 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored. Senior third baseman Connor Callery (Covington, Ky.) went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Redshirt junior right-handed starting pitcher Cory Blessing (Mayfield, Ohio) got the win for Ohio to improve to 1-1 on the season. He fanned three in two innings of work on the hill. Senior southpaw Matt Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.), sophomore righty Kenny Ogg (Indianapolis, Ind.), senior right-hander Tom Colletti (Wheaton, Ill.), junior righty Logan Jacik (Omaha, Neb.) and redshirt junior right-hander Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) each gave the Bobcats a scoreless inning of relief.
STRENGTH IN ARMS
Ohio has established itself as one of the top pitching staffs in the Mid-American Conference through four weeks of the 2017 season.
Ohio's pitching staff has recorded three shutout victories in 15 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 right-hander Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) is 1-0 with a team-best 0.64 ERA and is tied for fourth on the team with junior southpaw Butch Baird (Big Prairie, Ohio) with 15 strikeouts over 14.0 innings. He has given up just one earned run on eight hits and four walks. Baird sports a 2.66 ERA and a 2-0 record, fanning 15 over a team-high 23.2 innings while giving up seven earned runs on 18 hits and seven walks. Redshirt junior left-hander Gerry Salisbury (Brunswick, Ohio) is 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA. He leads the team with 22 strikeouts in 22.0 innings on the mound. He's allowed nine earned runs on 21 hits and seven walks.
Roehn has made seven appearances, fanning 15 in just 11.0 innings and has yet to surrender a run. 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. Colletti has made a team-high nine appearances out of the bullpen for the Bobcats and owns a 2.53 ERA with 12 strikeouts over 10.2 frames. Mikolajczak (New Lenox, Ill.) owns a 0.00 ERA, making six appearances and tossing 6.0 innings, tallying four strikeouts. He earned his first career save 2-1 win over SIU Edwardsville in 13 innings on Feb. 26 in Emerson, Ga. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Kamrada (Grand Ledge, Mich.) owns a 1.35 ERA over four appearances and 6.2 frames of work. Moving to the bullpen after spending the last three seasons as a starting pitcher, senior right-hander Jake Rudnicki (Toledo, Ohio) ranks second on the team with 18 strikeouts over 11.1 innings of relief and owns an 0.79 ERA. Ogg and Blessing have also performed well out of the bullpen. Ogg has made eight appearances and thrown 8.2 innings, striking out six and putting up a 2.08 ERA while Blessing has fanned 16 in five appearances and 10.0 innings and has a 2.70 ERA.
KLEIN DOES IT ALL
In addition to serving as the No. 3 pitcher in Ohio's weekend rotation, Klein is batting .310 with a team-best .552 slugging percentage and a team-high 18 hits -- including a team-high five doubles and a team-high three home runs -- to go along with nine RBIs, which ranks second on the squad.
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).
TAKING BASES OUT FROM UNDER THE OPPOSITION
Senior infielder Tyler Finkler (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) has stolen seven bases in 2017 to match his career high set a year ago.
Finkler is batting .268 with a .373 slugging percentage and a .375 on-base percentage. He is third on the team with 15 hits and leads the squad with 11 RBIs.
Smith is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bobcats. Ohio won 23 games during 2016 season. Smith has won 93 games at Ohio and led the Bobcats to a MAC tournament title and an NCAA Championship berth in 2015.
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
RU-DY, RU-DY, RU-DY
Sophomore infielder/catcher Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.) 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.
Tony Rossi is in his 48th season as head coach at Siena.
The Saints split a doubleheader at Davidson last Saturday (March 11), bouncing back from an 11-8 setback in the opener with an 8-4 victory in the second game of the twin bill.
Freshman infielder Rich Gilbride is batting a team-best .350. Senior outfielder Dan Swain leads the Saints with 13 hits -- including a team-high four home runs -- to go along with a team-high nine RBIs and 11 runs scored.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Tommy Miller has tallied a team-high nine strikeouts. Freshman right-hander Brendan White has thrown a team-high 21.0 innings and has totaled eight strikeouts. Freshman righty Danny Hobbs has made a team-high five appearances out of the bullpen and has not allowed an earned run.
Ohio is scheduled to host Morehead State next Tuesday (March 21) in a 6 p.m. ET matchup at The Wren.