Photo Credit: Nick Ursini/WOUB

Ohio Baseball Rides Late Rally to Secure the MAC Championship

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The No.5 Seeded Ohio Bobcats stormed back from a late deficit to beat the No.3 seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles 7-4, securing the team’s second Mid-American Conference Title in the past three seasons.

The Bobcats had their backs against the wall throughout the game thanks to a strong showing on the mound from Eagles starting pitcher Brad Allen. The junior stymied the Bobcat lineup for six innings but his seventh trip to the mound is what rejuvenated Ohio’s title hopes.

Allen gave up a Tyler Finkler single, Spencer Ibarra double, and a three-run bomb off the bat of Ty Black which ended the pitcher’s day an inning too late for EMU and tied the contest 4-4.

“Biggest hit of my life, biggest situation that I’ve been in,” Black talking about the home run. “I don’t even know what happened once it left my bat.”

Forced to stay alive in a do or die game, Eastern Michigan replaced Allen with their ace Sam Delaplane. Not that it really mattered to Ohio, which proceeded to bat around the lineup and score three more runs in the inning.

Gerry Salisbury started the game on the mound for the Bobcats but really struggled with his pitch placement early on. The lefty gave up a game-tying solo shot to lead off the third inning

and Coach Smith decided to replace him after he put runners on the corners with zero outs. In came Kenny Ogg, the sophomore tossed five innings with zero earned runs on five hits, continuing his strong tournament play when Ohio needed his best.

Ogg kept the Bobcats in the game during the middle innings and did a great job keeping the Eagles’ base runners from rounding third. Eastern Michigan left 12 runners on base to Ohio’s four; Championships often come down to opportunities and the Eagles simply couldn’t take advantage of theirs when they needed to most.

A lot of those opportunities disappeared for Eastern Michigan once Ohio called upon Jake Rudnicki and Jake Roehn to close out the tournament. The duo gave up two hits, zero runs, and struck out four Eagles in the final two innings to capture the program’s 17th MAC Title.

Center fielder Devon Garcia led the Bobcats at the plate, Going 2-for-3 on the day with 2 RBI’s. Meanwhile, Spencer Ibarra was right behind him going 1-for-5 with a ground-rule double in the 8th inning. Ohio’s best hitter was also named player of the game and tournament MVP for his

monstrous performances at the plate throughout Ohio’s title run.

“I mean there’s a lot of of good guys on this team, and I’m just thankful that I had this group of guys behind me,” Ibarra on being named Tournament MVP. “Plus, all my coaches and everything, I’m just very grateful.”

Ohio must now refocus their goals and prepare for the NCAA Tournament Regionals. The Bobcats will find out their region at 8 p.m. tonight, while their opponent will be announced during the NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show on Memorial Day at noon.