By Tim Glon
BEREA — Ohio Northern overcame three rain delays and a late Heidelberg rally to post a 9-5 victory on Thursday afternoon in the second game of the 2019 Ohio Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament at Fisher Field.
The third-seeded Polar Bears (23-16 overall) advance in the winner's bracket and will face fourth-seeded Otterbein on Friday morning at 9:30 am.
The second-seeded Student Princes (28-12) fall to the loser's bracket and will play top-seeded tournament host Baldwin Wallace on Friday in an elimination game at 12:30 pm.
Junior Nate Bye (Thorntown, Ind./Western Boone) threw seven solid innings, allowing only one run and three hits while striking out seven to earn the win and improve to 5-3 on the season.
Bye was cruising when the first rain delay hit entering the bottom of the seventh inning and ONU holding a 5-1 lead.
After a 48-minute delay, Bye returned to retire HU in order in the bottom of the seventh.
In the top of the eighth, Northern loaded the bases with none out when a small 7-minute rain delay halted play. ONU answered by scoring four runs, keyed by a 2-run double by sophomore Tyler Randick (Flushing, Mich.), to take a commanding 9-1 lead.
Another rain delay of 19 minutes ended Bye's afternoon heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Once play resumed, the Student Princes took advantage of the ONU bullpen as the first five batters in the bottom of the eighth reached base.
Heidelberg scored four runs to pull within 9-5 before junior Josh Mohr (Oregon/Clay) came on and got a double play on his first pitch to get out of the inning.
Mohr then allowed only one harmless single in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.
Randick led ONU's 10-hit offensive attack by going 3-for-4 with a pair of run-scoring doubles and three RBI.
"Nate Bye threw very well and we hit the ball at key times today," ONU head coach Gene Stechschulte said. "The rain delays did not help us. Nate did a great job of coming back after the first daley, but the final one was just too much. We were good at the plate all day. I'm happy for our guys that we fought off some adversity in the eighth and held on."
Senior Caleb Thomas (Strongsville) gave Northern a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when he doubled, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a throwing error on the BW catcher.
Burkett then his his 2-run home run in the sixth inning to put Ohio Northern ahead 3-1.
Randick made it 4-1 when he doubled home Buckingham in the seventh and it was 5-1 when he scored on a bunt single by sophomore Andy Mills (Cincinnati/St. Xavier).