Baseball overcomes early deficit in nightcap to post split against Muskies
By: Jay Garneau
ADA – The Ohio Northern baseball team erased a nine-run deficit to salvage a doubleheader split against Ohio Athletic Conference nemesis Muskingum at Wander Field on Sunday afternoon.
Trailing 9-0 in the fourth inning of the nightcap, ONU outscored the Muskies 12-1 the rest of the way to win 12-10, after Muskingum took the first game 6-0.
Ohio Northern moves to 14-21 overall and 6-9 in the OAC, while Muskingum is now 17-20 overall and 8-8 in the league.
Senior Ryan Damman and junior Craig Leopold were the stopgaps out of the ONU bullpen, combining for 6.0 innings of three-hit ball, allowing just one run to keep Northern in the game.
Damman entered when the score was 9-0, and struck out five batters over 4.1 innings of work while the ONU offense tied the score.
Leopold (1-0) then came in and earned the win, allowing just one baserunner in 1.2 scoreless innings of work, striking out two batters.
The Muskies came out hot to start the second game, totaling nine runs on nine hits, capped off by a three-run blast from Alex Vaccaro in the fourth to make it a 9-0 game.
Four hits and three Muskingum errors helped ONU put a six-run dent into the scoring margin, behind RBI singles from sophomores Daniel Rodriguez and Brian Thomas, as well as a run-scoring walk from senior Chad Coward.
After a single from junior Tom Walton in the fifth inning, Rodriguez drilled a double to the wall in left-center, scoring Walton and making the score 9-7.
In the sixth, freshman Derek Lenardos led off with a bunt single and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a Muskingum error, then scoring on a sacrifice fly from senior Matt Hampshire.
Walton again started a rally in the seventh, reaching on an infield single and advancing to second on a groundout. Thomas delivered with a single up the middle to plate Walton, tying the game at 9-9.
Small ball helped Muskingum regain the lead in the eighth, as Vaccaro singled and advanced to second on a bunt, then scoring on an Adam Bennett RBI single.
But the Polar Bears answered right back, with Coward leading off the eighth with a walk and senior Eric Yunker adding a single.
Hampshire smacked a double into the left field corner to score Coward and put Yunker, the potential go-ahead run, on third base with no outs in the inning.
Colton Maxwell entered the game for Muskingum and struck out the two batters he faced, and it seemed as if he was going to get out of the inning as he forced a grounder to second base, but an errant throw got past the first baseman and allowed Yunker and Hampshire to score, making it a 12-10 game.
Leopold then retired the side in order in the top of the ninth to close out the ONU victory.
Logan Addison (1-4) took the loss for the Muskies, allowing five runs (two earned) in 2.0 innings, while starter Matt Free received a no decision after allowing seven runs (one earned) in 5.0 innings.
Junior Austin Price started for ONU and received a no decision, going 2.0 innings and allowing three runs (one earned), while striking out four.
Muskingum won the opener 6-0 behind a complete game three-hit shutout from Todd Spadaro (5-2), as he also struck out six and didn't walk a batter in 7.0 innings.
ONU's only real threat came when trailing 1-0 in the third, when Thomas and sophomore Tyler Deitering were both in scoring position with one out, but both were stranded after a popout and groundout.
The Muskies strung together five hits in the fifth inning to score four runs and take a 5-0 lead, which Matt Connor added onto with a solo blast in the seventh.
Vaccaro finished the day 5-for-7 with a homer, four RBIs and four runs scored to lead the Muskies offensively.
Senior Cody Fisher (1-4) received the loss for ONU, throwing 4.2 innings and allowing four runs, striking out six.
The Polar Bears return to action on Tuesday, traveling to ninth-ranked Adrian (Mich.) for a 6 p.m. non-conference matchup.