Note: This recap appears in the Thursday, May 23 newspaper on Page B1.
AVON, Ohio — Oops, Kenny Ogg did it again to the Golden Flashes.
Ogg, a senior right-handed starter, tossed a complete game and the Bobcats cashed in a big first inning to stun Kent State — 7-3 — in the opening round of the 2019 Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament on Wednesday at Sprenger Stadium.
Ohio (19-32), the No. 6 seed, advances to the next round in the winner’s bracket. The ‘Cats will face top-seeded Central Michigan (43-12) in a 2 p.m. start on Thursday. No. 3 Kent State (30-23) falls to the loser’s bracket and faces an elimination game at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
Ogg (4-8) needed 129 pitches to work all nine innings, but did the job for a second time this season against Kent State. Ogg worked eight shutout innings against the Flashes in a 1-0 home win last month.
Ogg wasn’t as dominant this time around, but managed to neutralize one of the best lineups in the MAC, spare the Ohio bullpen any work, and propel the Bobcats to another tournament win. Ogg walked just two, in the first inning, and managed to scatter nine hits.
“He was good again today,” said Ohio head coach Rob Smith. “He’s had a lot of really good outings against Kent State.
“He did it again today. Clutch. Tough.”
The victory moved Ohio to 9-0 in MAC Tournament play under seventh-year head coach Rob Smith. The Bobcats have yet to lose a tournament game under Smith, but will face the red-hot Chippewas — who have won 15 straight — next.
Senior catcher Tanner Piechnick provided much of the pop for the Ohio offense, and finished with two hits and four RBI. Aaron Levy added two hits and an RBI, while Rudy Rott added a hit and scored twice.
Ohio came out of the gate swinging against KSU starter Connor Wollersheim (6-6). The first two batters reached, and Treyben Funderburg scored from third on a wild pitch to break up the scoreless tie.
After a KSU throwing error made it 2-0, a walk set the stage for Piechnick. He ripped a shot over the wall in deep left for a three-run home run and the Bobcats were out to a 5-0 lead before Wollensheim could even get a second out.
“It doesn’t take away from the confidence, that’s for sure,” Ogg said.
Wollenshiem, who allowed six hits, three walks and five runs, settled in after the early barrage and kept the Flashes down 5-0 until the sixth. There, KSU broke through after Kian O’Brien’s run-scoring groundout with runners on the corners.
Ohio tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth. Levy drilled a solo homer to right-center to make it 6-1, and Piechnick added an RBI single to make it 7-1.
KSU finally got to Ogg in the eighth, and opened the inning with three straight singles including Michael Turner’s RBI grounder to right. O’Brien added a sacrifice fly to make it 7-3.
But Ogg got two more outs to end the inning. With two on and two out, Ogg got Collin Mathews looking a called third strike to end the frame.
The Flashes put two on with two out in the ninth, but Ogg induced a lazy fly ball to center for the final out.
Ohio was 1-2 during the season against CMU, with the Chips winning 5-3 and 6-2 and the Bobcats taking a 12-11 decision. With a win on Thursday, the ‘Cats would be halfway home to the required four wins to take the MAC title. A loss would drop Ohio into the loser’s bracket on Friday.
Rott named Player of the Year
On Tuesday, Rott — a senior first baseman — was named the MAC Player of the Year. Rott became the first player in Ohio, or MAC, history to win the award in back-to-back seasons.
An Ohio player has claimed the award four times; Rott won it in 2018, with Mitch Longo (2015) and Marc Krauss (2009) also picking up the honor.
Rott was a First Team All-MAC pick as well after leading Ohio in hitting (.377), hits (72), doubles (17), home runs (10), RBI (45), slugging percentage (.634) and on-base percentage (.457).
Rott, from Holmen, Wisconsin, now has 285 career hits (with one on Wednesday) and will tie the Ohio career record of 286 (Jake Madsen) with his next.
Sophomore right-hander Edward Kutt IV was named a Second Team All-MAC pick as well. Kutt led Ohio with a 3.13 ERA in 22 appearances, and logged a team-high 67 strikeouts in 74.2 innings.
2019 MAC Baseball Tournament
Wednesday, May 22
Game 1 — Ohio 7, Kent State 3
Game 2 — No. 4 Miami vs. No. 5 Northern Illinois, late
Thursday, May 23
Game 3 — No. 3 Kent State (30-23) vs. G2 Loser, 10 a.m. ET
Game 4 — No. 1 Central Michigan vs. No. 6 Ohio (19-32), 2 p.m. ET*
Game 5 — No. 2 Ball State vs. TBA, 6 p.m. ET
Friday, May 24
Game 6 — G3 Winner vs. G4 or G5 Loser, 10 a.m. ET#
Game 7 — G6 Winner vs. G4 or G5 Loser, 2 p.m. ET#
Game 8 — G4 Winner vs. G5 Winner, 6 p.m. ET
Saturday, May 25
Game 9 — G7 Winner vs. G8 Loser, 12:30 p.m. ET
Game 10 — Championship Game, 6 p.m. ET
Sunday, May 26
Game 11 — Championship Game Replay, Noon ET (if necessary)
* The No. 1 seed will play the lowest seed to advance from the first round of the tournament games.
# The lowest seed to advance from games four & five will play in a game six (e.g. low is 6 seed) and the higher seed to advance from games four and five (e.g., high is 1 seed) will play in game 7. However, if No. 1 and No. 2 seeds both lose in games four and five, they will play each other in Game 6 with the advancing team facing the winner of game 3 in game 7. Exception: if one of the game 4 or 5 losers already has had a bye, that team will play in Game 6 regardless of seed.