By Caleb Scott
AUBURNDALE, Fla. — The Ohio Northern baseball team swept Wentworth (Mass.) 10-0, 7-4 on Wednesday afternoon in a twinbill during the RussMatt Invitational in Auburndale, Florida.
The Polar Bears improve to 4-1 overall, while the Leopards fall to 0-4.
Senior Jason Burkett (Maumee) led the way for Northern during the contests, going a combined 4-for-6 at the plate and adding a game-one pitching victory to his afternoon.
Burkett also tallied four RBI and three runs scored, while junior Luke Klinehoffer (Zanesville/John Glenn) added four hits, three runs scored and an RBI.
ONU jumped out to a quick lead in the first contest and didn't look back as the Polar Bears tallied six runs in the top half of the first inning to take a commanding 6-0 lead out of the gate.
In that inning, Northern used four hits and took advantage of two defensive errors to score as Klinehoffer, Burkett and senior Hayden Shenefield (Powell/Worthington Kilbourne) and sophomore Phil Buckingham (Wayne/Elmwood) each laid down hits to guide the 6-run inning.
After a double to left center from junior Caleb Thomas (Strongsville) put him in scoring position, Burkett helped add to the lead with an RBI single to left field in the top of the third inning to extend the lead to 7-0.
In the top of the fourth, freshman Krue Thwaits (Greenville/Milton Union) and senior Brandon Kasberg (Mentor) got on base following back-to-back defensive miscues from the Leopards before Klinehoffer drove home Thwaits with a single and steals from Kasberg and Klinehoffer plated Kasberg.
With Klinehoffer at third, senior Jordan Bostater (Bryan) pushed him home with an RBI single to the shortstop to push the lead to 10-0 through three innings.
The ONU defense would hold strong from there to seal the 10-0 game one shutout.
Burkett and sophomore Scott Beaton (Novi, Mich.) led Northern to the victory on the mound, as Burkett went five inning and struck out five batters, before Beaton threw two relief innings and struck out two batters to seal the victory. Burkett moves to 1-0 on the season.
In the second game of the twinbill, Wentworth was able to take the early lead, scoring two runs in the opening half of the first inning.
The Leopards added to their lead in the top of the fourth inning to push the lead to 3-0.
Northern would use a 3-run fourth inning to knot the game at 3-3 as Burkett drilled a 2-RBI triple to center field before senior Kyle Schlade (Hamilton/Talawanda) hit a sac fly to center field to plate Burkett.
After shutting down WIT's offense in the ensuing inning, Northern tallied four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a commanding 7-3 lead.
An RBI single from Thomas and a 2-RBI single through the right side from freshman Matthew Burkett (Maumee) pushed the lead to 6-3 before Jason Burkett scored on a throwing error from the WIT catcher to add to the Polar Bear lead.
Wentworth cut into the lead in the top of the sixth inning, adding one run to cut the deficit to 7-4 but couldn't get any closer as Northern completed the sweep.
The Polar Bears will continue their spring break trip on Thursday morning with a 9 a.m. matchup against Aurora (Ill.).