By Blake Moore
ADA — Freshman right-handed pitcher Tom Pitko (Youngstown/Austintown-Fitch) earned his first career pitching victory Monday evening and led the Ohio Northern baseball program to a 3-2 win over nonconference foe Albion (Mich.) in its 2019 regular season finale at Wander Field.
With the win, the Polar Bears end the regular season with a 22-16 overall record. The Britons conclude their regular season slate with a 22-18 overall mark.
Pitko tossed 4.2 scoreless innings in relief Monday evening, scattering four hits and walking just one batter for the win. The Youngstown native showed off his accuracy in the nonconference affair, recording 40 strikes on 58 total pitches for a 69.0% strike rate.
With a one-run lead headed into the ninth, junior Scott Beaton (Novi, Mich.) closed the door on an AC comeback after inducing a 6-4-3 double play and a fly out to center field. For his performance, the right-hander earned his first save this season and the third overall in his career.
Offensively, sophomore Michael Rocco (Orlando, Fla./Zionsville, Ind.) paced the team with two hits in the contest. Rocco, senior Luke Klinehoffer (Zanesville/John Glenn), and sophomore Tyler Randick (Flushing, Mich.) each recorded one RBI in the contest to lead the team.
The two sides remained scoreless until the third inning when Klinehoffer lofted a sacrifice fly into center field, scoring sophomore Andy Mills (Cincinnati/St. Xavier) for a 1-0 advantage.
The Britons responded immediately with two runs in the top of the fourth inning for a 2-1 edge on the road. Albion compiled five hits in the frame, which included RBI singles from Justin Charron and Matt Bur.
However, Ohio Northern came through in the home half with two runs for a definitive 3-2 lead. With two outs, Randick launched an RBI double into the right center field gap and Rocco laced a line drive back up the middle to put ONU back in command.
Throughout the final five innings, the two programs combined for just five total hits. Overall, the Britons out-hit the Polar Bears 11-5.
Ohio Northern has now defeated Albion twice this season after upending the Britons 7-5 at the RussMatt Invitational on March 5 during the team's annual Spring Break trip.
The Polar Bears will now turn their attention to the 2019 Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament scheduled for this weekend at Baldwin Wallace. ONU enters the postseason with the No. 3 seed and will face off against second-seeded Heidelberg at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 to begin its championship pursuit.