ADA – The Ohio Northern University baseball team is waiting and hoping there will be a place for them in the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament.
The Polar Bears kept their slim chances alive when they knocked off Heidelberg in 11-innings by a 4-3 margin in the opening game of a double header at Wander Field, then won 7-3 in the second game. Now they have to wait for the outcome of today’s doubleheader between Baldwin-Wallace and Muskingum.
ONU (28-12, 11-7 OAC) starting pitcher Nick Eltzroth tossed a nine-inning gem but got a no decision when seemingly every call went against him in the first game.
The Polar bears had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when left fielder Jack LaMarca led off with a double and came around to score on a single off the bat of designated hitter Daniel Rodriguez.
The Student Princes (31-9,13-5 OAC) then loaded the bases with one-out in the top of the fifth and scored their first run when the Heidelberg batter stepped out of the box as Eltzroth was in his stretch. After seeing the batter out of the box Eltzroth stepped off the mound but was called for a balk because the home plate didn’t call time-out.
Heidelberg would add two more runs and took a 3-1 lead in the game.
ONU would knot the game at 3-3 when they added two runs in the sixth inning. A walk to LaMarca was followed by a single by Dan Belliveau. Rodgriguez then drove in both runners with a double to even the game.
The two teams traded scoreless innings in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. Eltzroth was removed after nine innings and was replaced by left-hander Ben Glischinski who sailed through the tenth inning.
The Student Princes then loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the 11th and appeared poised to grab the lead when a fly ball was sent into medium right field. Belliveau caught the ball and threw a bullet to home that doubled up the Heidelberg runner trying to score from third.
Glischinski got out of the inning and the Polar Bears came to bat in the bottom of the 11th inning.
The first two ONU batters went down to start the inning before Rodriguez singled for his third hit of the game. Reed the ripped a one ball and one strike pitch to deep right field that scored Rodriguez and gave the hard fought victory to the Polar Bears.
“Eltzroth battled, mixed his speeds well, and kept us in the game.” ONU coach Gene Stechschulte said. “Belliveau made a big time throw and Reed got the big hit for us. We have something to play for and have to learn to win when everything goes against you.”
Heidelberg and Marietta have already clinched conference play-off berths while ONU is battling with John Carroll and Baldwin-Wallace for the third and fourth play-off spots.
ADA — Ohio Northern forced a winner-take-all final game in the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday with wins over John Carroll and Muskingum.
The Polar Bears (23-18) will now play Muskingum (25-16) for an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament at noon today.
In a 23-11 win over John Carroll, ONU’s Kelly Sheridan went 4 for 7 with six RBIs and Christin Miller was 4 for 7 with four runs scored.ONU won 6-1 over Muskingum in the second game behind a four-hitter by freshman pitcher Kirsten Burden.