Photo Credit: Nick Ursini/WOUB

Michael Klein Stabilizes Ohio on the Mound and at the Plate

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Redshirt Junior Michael Klein is doing something for Ohio that has not been done since Logan Cozart. Klein is not only contributing to the Ohio baseball team both at the plate and on the mound, but he is doing so in key ways.

Prior to Ohio, Klein Earned four letters in baseball at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

On the mound, Klein went 9-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 78 strikeouts. At the plate, Klein recorded a .373 batting average and a .739 slugging percentage with 53 hits including 12 home runs to go along with 52 RBIs.

After high school, Klein took Iowa Western Community College to the JUCO World Series in 2015, posting a 1.40 ERA in 25.2 innings while batting .417 and slugging .767 en route to earning Honorable Mention All-Iowa Community College Athletic Conference honors.

Now as Ohio’s third starter and cleanup hitter, Klein continues to help the Bobcats win games. His focus this past summer was simple; play more, but rest when needed.

“I like to workout almost every day of the week and take the weekends off,” he said. “Summer ball was huge for me, I recently had summer ball off the year prior. But this year I got to focus on having a lot more at-bats.”

In 2016, Klein was not as effective as he has been this year. Klein made 19 appearances on the mound with six starts, going 3-4 with 38 strikeouts over 54.1 innings of work. Klein hit just .208 with a .292 slugging percentage and a .208 on-base percentage with just 24 at-bats on the season.

The transition from Junior College to Ohio was not a drastic one since Klein played in competitive leagues back home as well as at Iowa Community College.

“It is pretty much the same level; I grew up in a very competitive league in Colorado. So a lot of my friends got drafted and are in the pros right now. I’m used to the talent and high caliber.”

Now 36 games into the 2017 season, Klein continues to put in work both on and off the field to maintain his health and composure.

“I take my off days really seriously. A lot of guys go in to take swings, I go in to rest my body and do more of a mental game. During practice, I’ll have something that I focus on every day. I don’t try and hit home runs, I work on different things here and there.”

Klein leads Ohio’s staring pitchers with a 2.68 ERA, a 3-2 record with 43.2 innings pitched and has 40 strikeouts.

At the plate, Klein has 147 at-bats. His .279 batting average is fifth on the team, he has the fourth most hits with 41 and his four home runs and 20 RBIs are both third on the team.

Klein embraces the competition with his teammates but knows that he can take the time to relax and joke around and enjoy the fun. Especially with Spencer Ibarra.

“We don’t push each other vocally,” Klein said. “But, we are roommates so we do joke around that we are close in average, but we have some fun.”

Being both a pitcher and hitter has its advantages. Knowing what opposing pitchers might throw during a specific count during the at-bat or making sure the hitters he faces do not get an edge on his pitches.

“It helps out a lot. There is a good time that I know what pitch is coming. On base, I know what counts to steal on. I may not be the fastest guy on the team, but I finally can steal bases more. Sometimes they fool me, but that is baseball. Most of the time I know what is coming.”

“For pitching, I try and change it up and throw the opposite of what they think is coming.”

The baseball season is long, but Klein puts his team and his teammates before his own stats.

“We want to be focused on winning these series and keep working our tails off. If we lose a game or two to pick each other up. This year, before each game, we pray in the outfield and focus on picking each other up. If things don’t go my way, then so what. As long as the team is winning and we’re having a good time, I can’t let a bad attitude affect the team.”