Ohio Falls to Kentucky in NCAA Baseball Regional

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With the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year on the mound and seven batters hitting over .300, the Kentucky Wildcats were not a surprise for Ohio coach Rob Smith.

“They’re as good as advertised.”

Kentucky defeated Ohio 6-4 in the first game of the Lexington Regional.  The Wildcats had baserunner after baserunner which stifled an Ohio comeback.

Bobcat starting pitcher Michael Klein managed to sit down Kentucky’s first two batters with little trouble.  Needing one out to end the inning, the wheels quickly fell off.

Zach Reks doubled with two strikes and Luke Becker and Riley Mahan each followed with singles that advanced them to second on a throw.  The next two batters walked before Klein ended the inning, stopping the damage at two Kentucky runs.

Kentucky would tag another run on Klein before he was taken out after four innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and five walks.

“That was the best lineup I’ve faced all year,” Klein said.  “That was a good lineup, one through nine.  I had to focus every at bat, every pitch.”

The Wildcats put up two more runs on Kenny Ogg in his inning of relief for Ohio before Jake Rudnicki took over.

Rudnicki threw only nine pitches, the first was a bunt single by Mahan with a runner on.  The next eight pitches missed the zone and another run crossed the plate, giving Kentucky a 6-0 lead.

Needing six runs with two innings left to play was a challenge that was too much for Ohio, but the Bobcats did not miss by much.

With Sean Hjelle still on the mound for Kentucky in the eighth, Spencer Ibarra and Ty Black hit back-to-back singles to bring Rudy Rott up.  The lefty-on-lefty matchup benefited Rott as he smacked a ball over the sign in right field to cut Kentucky’s lead in half, 6-3.

“[Hjelle] got down 1-0, and I was looking for one pitch in one spot and I got a fastball middle in and just put my best swing on it,” Rott said.

In the top of the ninth, Rott had another chance in a big spot.

Rott went to the plate as the tying run after Black singled in Devon Garcia who reached with a walk.  Rott saw one pitch from closer Logan Salow and grounded out to first base.

Ohio’s loss threw the Bobcats into the Elimination Bracket in Lexington.  One more loss for Ohio and the season is over.  The Bobcats will try and stay alive against the loser of Indiana and North Carolina State at noon on Saturday.