TIFFIN, Ohio – Ultimately needing two wins to qualify for the GLIAC Tournament, Ohio Dominican's baseball team wound up splitting with host Tiffin on Sunday, winning game two 13-7 after dropping a 13-10 decision in the opener.
The Panthers needed to win one more game than Hillsdale today to earn the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament. Hillsdale lost its opener to Lake Erie, but held on to win the second game 6-5.
Ohio Dominican finished its season with a 25-24 record overall (16-16 GLIAC). The Panthers won 10 more GLIAC games than last season and six more games overall against a schedule that featured 22 games against regionally ranked opponents.
ODU broke game two wide open early. The Panthers loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, and sophomore Colin Kaucher (Toledo, Ohio) hit an RBI single to center to score senior Tony Evans (Medway, Ohio). Sophomore Noah Bland (Oberlin, Ohio) followed with an opposite field grand slam to right, his third homer of the year, to give the Panthers a 5-0 lead.
In the second inning, junior Justin Childers (Pickerington, Ohio) hit a two-run shot to right field, increasing the lead to 7-0, and Bland's RBI grounder in the fourth made it 8-0.
Sophomore Jace Komminsk (Westerville, Ohio) and junior Lee Sponseller (Mason, Ohio) hit solo shots in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, to put ODU in front 10-1. Komminsk then hit an RBI double down the left field line in the eighth to make it an 11-2 ballgame.
The Dragons scored five times in the eighth to draw within 11-7, but an RBI single from Kaucher and a Dragon throwing error put ODU in front 13-7 in the ninth to put the game away.
The offensive output backed a strong start from sophomore Mitchell Bault (Maineville, Ohio), who tossed 7.0 innings and allowed just two runs on seven hits. He struck out four and walked two in his second longest outing of the spring.
Childers reached base in all six plate appearances, finishing 3-for-3 with three walks, a homer, four runs scored, two steals and two RBIs. He closed the year with a .451 batting average, 14 homers, 60 RBIs, 62 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.
A plethora of Panthers had two hits apiece in Sponseller, Evans, senior Kyle Burson (Brunswick, Ohio), Komminsk and junior Cody Paterniti (Chardon, Ohio). Bland finished with five RBIs and Evans scored three runs as ODU finished with 15 hits in the contest.
In the opener, ODU had leads of 6-0 and 10-6, but a seven run fourth inning by Tiffin proved to be the difference.
Sponseller started the game with a home run to right center and freshman Joey Machuga (Canfield, Ohio) had a sacrifice fly to give ODU a 2-0 lead in the first, and the Panthers followed that with a four-run second inning. Evans hit a sacrifice fly and Childers hit a three-run shot to right-center to extend the lead.
Tiffin scored one run in the second inning, then tallied five runs with two outs in the third inning to tie the game at 6-6.
The Panthers recovered with a four-run fourth inning. With two outs, Childers tripled to center field to score Evans and Sponseller, and Kaucher followed with a two-run shot to right to make it 10-6.
However, ODU pitchers walked six batters in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Dragons plated seven runs on just one hit, which was a two-out, three-run homer, to go on top 13-10.
The Panthers would bring the tying run to the plate in the fifth and seventh innings but could not score.
ODU finished with 11 hits in the game as Childers went 2-for-4 with five RBIs and Kaucher and Paterniti each had a pair of hits as well. Sponseller was 1-for-2 with two walks and scored three times as well.
Contact: Scott Miles