Bishops stay stagnant in NCAC Standings


By Tony Carter

For the Gazette

The Ohio Wesleyan baseball team, stuck right around the .500 mark and fifth in the North Coast Athletic Conference standings, couldn’t make up any ground over the weekend as it dropped both ends of a doubleheader to visiting Wittenberg Saturday at Littick Field.

The Tigers (20-12), now a game ahead of nationally-ranked Denison for the top stop in the NCAC, edged the Bishops (15-15) 5-4 in the nightcap after cruising to a 13-3 opening-game win.

OWU sophomore Hank Holman got the nod for game one … and the Tiger offense jumped on him early, with the first two hitters in the lineup reaching base. Following a foul-out by left fielder Rocco Royer, right fielder Connor O’Malley hit a rocket toward Ohio Wesleyan fifth-year senior shortstop D.J. Neff, who could not corral it cleanly, causing the first run of the contest to cross.

With runners on second and third and two Tiger runs already in, designated hitter Matt Moore hit a rip out to left center field, driving in two more for Wittenberg and breaking the game open early. The Tigers managed to extend their first-inning lead to five … with all five runs of the unearned variety.

Junior center fielder Sammy Stoner gave Ohio Wesleyan, in dire need of a spark, just that with a lead-off single to right center in the bottom of the first. Neff walked and, after back-to-back strikeouts, sophomore first baseman Zane Vitense poked one out to right center, knocking in a run to cut into the Wittenberg lead.

Trailing by four in the second inning, senior backstop Tyler Monaco led off with a double to left center field. With senior left fielder Ryan Stefancin attempting to bunt Monaco over to third, he got caught in a rundown, resulting in a fielding error by Tiger shortstop James MacAuley.

Sophomore second baseman Jack Bates and Stoner did their jobs after that, both hitting hard ground balls to the right side of the field, each driving in a run.

Clinging to a 5-3 lead in the top of the fourth, the Wittenberg bats woke up for good as two extra-base hits and five runs put OWU to bed.

The Battling Bishop lineup was unable to gain any momentum following Wittenberg’s hitting spree and, while relievers Jacob Lowry, Alex Casper and Cameron McKenzie tried to keep Wittenberg at bay, they couldn’t cool down the Tigers’ hot bats.

Wittenberg plated three more runs in the seventh to end things early. Holman suffered the setback, putting his record at 2-2. He gave up seven hits, 10 runs, only three earned runs, one walk and had to strikeouts.

The Bishops had a chip on their shoulder to start the second game, beginning with a three-up, three-down effort from freshman starter Robert Martin.

After that, with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, Vitense and junior designated hitter Ryan Duckworth each hit singles. Senior right fielder and clean-up man Edrick Padilla followed with a three-run home run over the right field fence, his fourth of the year, as the Ohio Wesleyan faithful erupted in cheers.

The Bishops couldn’t keep the momentum in their dugout for long, though, as Wittenberg responded with two hits and a run in the second to cut the deficit to one.

In the bottom of the fourth, clinging to a one-run lead, Duckworth led off with a double down the left field line, setting up Padilla to do more damage against Wittenberg starter Austin Luther. He did just that, too, hitting a pellet toward right-center field to easily score Duckworth.

After a quiet fifth inning, Ohio Wesleyan senior Jason Monos replaced Martin after five solid innings of work. The Tigers managed to score a run, cutting their deficit in half.

Sophomore Mikey Olivieri came in for Monos in the sixth with the bases loaded and two outs. He struck out the first batter he faced, as a triumphant roar could be heard across the field from Olivieri.

The Bishop bats went quiet in the late innings, but Olivieri continued to stay strong through the seventh and eighth.

In the top of the ninth, still leading by one, Olivieri plunked lead-off hitter Alex Nemunaitis, though. First baseman Xander Rodriguez then blasted a go-ahead, two-run home run to give Wittenberg the late lead.

Martin tossed five innings, allowing seven hits, three earned runs and two walks. Olivieri suffered the setback, throwing 2.1 innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs to move to 2-1 on the season.

Ohio Wesleyan went a combined 12-for-60 at the dish between both games.

Duckworth and Padilla, who is now hitting .337 with four homers and 29 RBI, each had two hits in the nightcap.

Next up, Ohio Wesleyan will play Capital in a doubleheader Tuesday at Huntington Park in Columbus.

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