By Blake Moore
MARIETTA — The Ohio Northern baseball program opened a busy, nine-game week Monday afternoon with an impressive 6-4 and 7-1 sweep over Ohio Athletic Conference foe Marietta at Don Schaly Stadium in Marietta.
The contests were originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but the doubleheader was postponed due to inclement weather.
With the victories, the Polar Bears improve to 17-14 overall in the 2019 campaign. More importantly, ONU surpasses Marietta in the conference standings, placing the team one game back from the fourth and final playoff spot.
Ohio Northern has now won seven of its last eight contests dating back to April 11.
With the losses, Marietta falls to 14-17 overall and 7-7 in league action.
In game one, junior right-handed pitcher Jack Schaller (Bowling Green) posted his team-leading fifth win after tossing seven innings. The Bowling Green native struck out four batters and surrendered just five hits and four runs with only two being earned.
Meanwhile, sophomore hurler James Fisher (Castalia/Margaretta) recorded his second save in 2019 with one-hit baseball over the final two innings.
The Polar Bears struck first in the opener with a single run in the second inning. After a two-base error in the outfield, junior Phil Buckingham (Wayne/Elmwood) drove in the initial score on a ground out to second base.
MC answered with three successive runs across the second and third innings, but a four-run fourth inning lifted Ohio Northern to a 5-3 advantage. Sophomore outfielder Krue Thwaits (Greenville/Milton Union) kicked off the rally with an RBI single before sophomore Michael Rocco (Orlando, Fla./Zionsville, Ind.) launched a two-run triple and senior Luke Klinehoffer (Zanesville/John Glenn) laced an RBI single down the right field line.
The Pioneers tried to battle back with a run in the fifth inning on a wild pitch, making the scoreline 5-4. However, ONU added an insurance run in the sixth when sophomore outfielder Andy Mills (Cincinnati/St. Xavier) brought home Klinehoffer on an RBI single.
During the nightcap, the two sides were deadlocked through the first four frames.
From there, Northern rattled off seven successive runs with three runs in the fifth, three more in the sixth, and an additional run in the seventh stanza.
MC mustered one run in the seventh inning when Eddie Poster laced an RBI triple into right center field following a leadoff single. However, the Pioneer bats fell silent over the final two frames, securing the Polar Bear sweep.
Junior Nate Bye (Thorntown, Ind./Western Boone) won his second consecutive start in the nightcap, allowing just one run over seven innings. The junior also added four strikeouts, giving him a team-best 35 strikeouts on the season.
Buckingham, Rocco, and Klinehoffer each ended the day with four hits to pace the Ohio Northern offense. Meanwhile, Mills produced a team-high three RBI on a three-for-five performance off the bench and added a stolen base.
Overall, Northern out-hit the Pioneers 26-13 over the two-game series.
The Polar Bears will return to action tomorrow evening with a single nonconference contest at Wittenberg. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield.