SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Facing elimination yet again, Ohio Dominican's baseball team took down No. 23 Quincy 10-4 and No. 4 Illinois Springfield 14-12 to win its third and fourth straight games at the NCAA Midwest Regional and advance to the regional championship on Monday.
The Panthers (36-16) will take on Southern Indiana starting at noon CT (1 p.m. ET) at Robin Roberts Stadium. Southern Indiana, the No. 7 seed, is 3-0 in the tournament, meaning the No. 4 seed Panthers must win twice to claim the regional and advance to the NCAA Division II National Championship.
To earn that right, ODU first avenged a setback to Quincy (41-18), the No. 5 seed and GLVC Tournament champion, after the Hawks started the tournament with an 8-3 victory over the Panthers on Thursday. In Sunday's rematch, the Panthers pounded out 14 hits and used relievers Brad Wilson (Alexandria, Ohio) and Tyler Magley (Baltimore, Ohio) to work all nine innings in the victory.
Colin Kaucher (Toledo, Ohio) lined an opposite field homer over the wall in right in the first inning to answer a Quincy solo shot in the top of the inning, and Jace Komminsk (Westerville, Ohio) pounded one over the fence in right center in the second inning to make it 2-1.
Quincy threatened in the third with a one out double and a fly ball to deep right center. Noah Bland (Oberlin, Ohio), though, ran the ball down in the gap for the catch, then started a relay to the plate that Kaucher held on to while absorbing a mid-air collision for the putout and double play to end the frame.
The Panthers rode that momentum into the bottom of the inning as Justin Childers (Pickerington, Ohio) smoked a ball past the third baseman and Kaucher drew a walk. Joey Machuga (Canfield, Ohio) took a 2-2 pitch through the right side for an RBI single and Chris Sackett (Loveland, Ohio) drilled the first pitch he saw into the gap in left center for an RBI double.
Quincy brought its infield in and Max Banke (Oakwood, Ohio) blooped a basehit over the drawn-in alignment for another RBI basehit, and Cody Paterniti (Chardon, Ohio) had an RBI infield single as well to cap off the four-run inning, giving ODU a 6-1 lead.
The Hawks cut it to 6-3 in the sixth and had two runners in scoring position with one out, but Magley entered and fanned the last two hitters to keep ODU on top.
Brad Hull (Gahanna, Ohio) blasted a one-out double into the gap in left center and went to third as the ball was bobbled, and with two outs, Kaucher lined a base hit into right to bring him in and bump the lead to 7-3.
Magley then made quick work of Quincy in the seventh with a strikeout and a pair of routine fly outs to left, and the Panthers took advantage of a Hawk miscue in the bottom of the inning. With Komminsk on first, Paterniti ripped a basehit to center, and with Komminsk headed to third, an overthrow allowed him to speed home and put the Panthers in front 8-3.
Quincy pushed across a run in the eighth and had runners on second and third, but Magley again ended an inning with a strikeout to keep the lead at 8-4.
Hull then started the home half by drilling a triple in the gap in left center and the Hawks intentionally walked Childers to face Kaucher, who made them pay by pounding a double to right field that brought in both Hull and Childers and bump the cushion to 10-4.
Magley then cruised through the ninth to close out the victory.
Wilson picked up the win, logging 5.1 innings in his first start of the year and throwing a season-high 90 pitches. He struck out six and walked just one in improving to 4-3.
Magley was magnificent, striking out a career-high seven in 3.2 innings to pick up his first save of the season and third in his career. He allowed just three hits and one run without walking a batter in the longest outing of his season.
Kaucher finished 4-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored with a walk, extending his streak in reaching base to 11 straight plate appearances. He headlined a 14-hit attack that saw Machuga, Paterniti, Banke and Hull pick up two hits apiece as well, while Childers drew a pair of walks.
Following an hour long break, the Panthers regrouped to face Illinois Springfield, the top seed in the region who entered with a 47-8 record and won the GLVC regular season title, but had lost to Southern Indiana on Saturday night.
Trailing 2-0 after the top of the first, Childers and Kaucher had line drive singles to start the bottom half, and a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at first allowed Childers to score and Kaucher to reach third. Sackett then brought Kaucher in with a sac fly to center to even the game.
The Panthers then struck for three runs in the second inning as Hull singled back up the middle and Bland walked to start the frame. Childers pulled a double down the line to bring in Hull and Machuga split the gap in left-center to score Bland and Childers to bump the lead to 5-2.
UIS loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth and capitalized with a four run inning to grab the lead at 6-5.
The Panthers responded, though. Sackett walked and Komminsk was hit by a pitch, and Bernee Sanchez (Grove City, Ohio) cranked a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left center to put the Panthers in front 8-6 in the fifth. Hull then drew a walk, stole second and came in to score on a UIS error, and Kaucher cranked an RBI double to score Childers and cap a five-run inning as ODU took a 10-6 lead.
UIS tacked on a run in the sixth and threatened in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs. A deep fly ball was hit to straightaway center, and Bland made a running catch on the track and flipped over the three-foot wall in center, but managed to hold on to the ball to preserve the Panther lead.
Childers then cranked a two-out solo homer to left in the bottom of the inning, but UIS answered with a two-run homer in the eighth to close to within 11-9.
The Panthers came right back in the bottom half, though, with Komminsk hitting a fielder's choice RBI grounder, and Hull and Bland following with RBI base hits to push the cushion out to 14-9.
The Prairie Stars countered with a three run homer in the ninth, but a ground out, a foul out and a line out to left ended the ballgame.
UIS had a 3.02 ERA as a team entering today, but ODU plated the 14 runs on 10 hits against five Prairie Star pitchers. Childers finished 3-for-5 with a walk and scored four times, while Kaucher and Hull also finished with two hits.
Freshman Tim Zeller (Mount Vernon, Ohio) picked up the victory, logging 4.2 innings of relief and allowing three earned runs while striking out seven, and senior Dustin Cowart (Hoover, Ala.) earned the save.
Contact: Scott Miles