By Sports Information Intern Tyler Jester
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio Dominican's baseball team will begin GLIAC play with five home games this week, taking on Lake Erie in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday before a three-game weekend series with Ashland.
Due to the extended winter chill across the Midwest, the Lake Erie contests were originally schedule to be played at Lake Erie on Wednesday, but were moved to Panther Valley.
ODU is coming off a strong performance during its annual spring trip, winning nine of 12 games, including a six game winning streak at one point. The trip was highlighted by a 2-0 win over No. 2 ranked Minnesota State Mankato.
The Panthers are tied for the second best overall record in the GLIAC as conference play begins this week. ODU ranks in the top six in the conference in almost every hitting statistic, including second in RBI (79), third in runs scored (88), third in home runs (five), and sixth in batting average (.285). The Panthers pitching staff leads the conference in ERA (2.29) and is fourth in batting average against (.256).
Offensively, the Panthers are led by senior outfielder Bryan Rudolph (Pickerington, Ohio). Rudolph is leading the team in batting average and hits with a .389 average and his 21 hits are sixth in the conference. He is also seventh in the GLIAC in RBI, driving in 12 runs, and third in the GLIAC in doubles with five.
Another senior outfielder, Jossue Delgado (Barinas, Venezuela), is also having a strong start to the season with a .380 batting average. Delgado has shown both speed and power early on, as he leads the team in both steals (10) and home runs (two). Delgado's 10 steals ranks him third in the conference and he is second in the conference in runs scored with 15.
Senior first baseman Anthony Raschilla (Girard, Ohio) is batting .304 with a team high 18 RBI, which is third in the GLIAC. He also leads the GLIAC with seven doubles. Sophomore third baseman Jacob Horsley (Thornville, Ohio) has a .375 batting average, and has been the most patient Panther batter, leading the team and ranking sixth in the GLIAC with eight walks. Horsley is getting on base in nearly half of his at bats with an OBP of .488, which ranks him seventh in the conference.
Senior Sean Blackburn (Wadsworth, Ohio) leads an impressive start to the season for the Panther pitching staff. Blackburn has appeared in four games and has a 2-0 record, recording a complete game shutout against Minnesota State in his only start. He ranks fifth in the conference in ERA, 0.73, in 12.1 innings pitched and was named the GLIAC Pitcher of the Week.
Junior Alberto Canales (West Park, Florida) has started three games and has a 1-0 record. Canales' ERA of 1.50 is 10th best in the GLIAC. Sophomore Ryan Colegate (Centerville, Ohio) has the only other complete game from a Panther pitcher so far in a 4-2 win over Wayne State (Neb.). Colegate has a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings pitched on the young season.
Junior Ryan Bidwell (Syracuse, N.Y.) has appeared in three games and has a 1-1 record with a 2.84 ERA. Bidwell has 14 strike outs in 12.1 innings pitched. Senior Alex Borgan (Pickerington, Ohio) leads the Panthers in innings pitched with 20.1 innings, which is sixth in the GLIAC. His 19 strikeouts are second on the team and fourth in the conference. Sophomore Austin Bueter (Wauseon, Ohio) has a 2-1 record and leads the GLIAC in strikeouts with 24.
The Panthers will play two games against the Lake Erie Storm on Wednesday, March 19. Lake Erie comes into the contest with a 6-7 record and has lost six of its last seven games. The Storm is led by sophomore Zack DeCamp with a .389 batting average and 14 hits. DeCamp has also scored eight times and has driven in seven runs. Junior Aaron Lindgren is also batting over .300 with a .310 average and leads the team with five stolen bases. Lake Erie also has a strong pitching staff, ranking second in the GLIAC behind the Panthers in ERA at 3.04.
ODU went 1-2 against Lake Erie in the regular season last year but beat the Storm in the GLIAC tournament 8-7 in 11 innings to get to the championship.
The Panthers will then host Ashland with two games on Saturday and one game on Sunday. Ashland comes into this week with a 10-5 record and ranked No. 22 nationally. The Eagles come into the week winning five of their last six games including winning two of three games against Cedarville in their last series.
The Eagles have a powerful offense as they rank in the top three in the GLIAC in nine batting categories. Ashland leads the conference in batting average (.338), on-base percentage (.425), and hits (158). Ashland has four batters with an average of .400 or better and five batters with an average of at least .321. Junior Austin Walts is leading the charge for the Eagles with a .431 batting average, ranking him fourth in the conference. Walts also leads the team in slugging percentage (.500), hits (25), and RBI's (13). Sophomore Mackenzie Hampshire has a .412 batting average on 21 hits.
The Eagles also have a strong pitching rotation with their four main starters having a combined 9-1 record and seven complete games. Junior Vince Frate leads the GLIAC with a 4-0 record and ERA (0.45). Junior Jake Baldwin is 1-0 with two complete games and has a 0.60 ERA. Baldwin also leads the team with strikeouts with 23 and ranks second in the GLIAC. Sophomore Alex Smith is 3-0 and also has two complete games.
The Panthers went 1-2 against the Eagles in the last series of the regular season last year. Ashland then beat ODU in the opening game of the GLIAC tournament and in the championship round, 7-5. The two teams were ranked third and fourth respectfully in the GLIAC preseason coaching polls. Ashland will host Wayne State for two games before traveling to Columbus this weekend.
The first game Saturday will begin at 1:00 p.m. and the second game will follow at approximately 4:00 p.m. The game Sunday will start at noon.
Contact: Scott Miles