By Blake Moore
ADA — Senior infielder Luke Klinehoffer (Zanesville/John Glenn) provided a walkoff RBI single in the opening game of an Ohio Athletic Conference doubleheader against Capital Monday afternoon, guiding the Ohio Northern baseball team to a season-series split with the Crusaders at Wander Field.
The Polar Bears claimed game one 11-10 in 10 innings on the walkoff hit, but fell to Capital 5-1 in the nightcap.
With Monday's split, ONU moves to 9-9 overall and rises to 1-3 in the OAC. Meanwhile, the Crusaders improve to 5-14 overall and 1-3 in league play.
In game one, the two sides remained scoreless until the third frame when Capital jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Following a single, a Polar Bear error, and a sacrifice bunt, CU outfielder Konnor Black brought home the opening run with a sacrifice fly to center field.
However, Northern responded with a five-spot in the home half of the third on four hits, two walks, and a hit by pitch.
From there, Capital built a sizable 9-5 advantage after matching the Polar Bears' five runs in the fourth inning and adding three more in the fifth stanza.
Ohio Northern hung five additional runs in the seventh inning to regain control, which included a pivotal two-RBI single from sophomore catcher Tyler Randick (Flushing, Mich.) to put the home side up 10-9.
After Capital's Bryce Grisez evened the score in the ninth with an RBI double, the Polar Bears kicked off the bottom of the tenth inning with back-to-back singles from Randick and classmate Michael Rocco (Orlando, Fla./Zionsville, Ind.). Randick then advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Klinehoffer drove home the game-winning run moments later.
During the nightcap, junior left-handed pitcher Josh Mohr (Oregon/Clay) and CU's Alex Mukensturm were locked in a pitcher's dual through the first five innings.
However, Capital proceeded to score one in the sixth, two in the seventh, and one more in the eighth and ninth frames to take a 5-0 advantage.
In the home half of the ninth, the Polar Bears picked up a run on an RBI groundout from Randick, but the rally would fall short.
Overall, Rocco topped Ohio Northern with five hits in the nine-spot on Monday. Meanwhile, junior Phil Buckingham (Wayne/Elmwood) trailed closely behind with four hits with two RBI and two runs scored.
Randick paced the team with three RBI on three hits while Klinehoffer and sophomore Will Davis (Upper Arlington/Bishop Watterston) each recorded two.
In addition to his efforts at the plate, Klinehoffer picked up the win on the mound in game one after tossing the final two innings. He surrendered just one earned run on two hits and struck out two batters.
Ohio Northern will return to action this Wednesday afternoon at Thomas More (Ky.) when they wrap up a home-and-home series with a single game at 4 p.m.