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BW Baseball Team Falls A Run Short of Title; OAC Tourney Starts Thursday

Spencer Badia
Spencer Badia

NEW CONCORD, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University baseball team came up one run short and split an Ohio Athletic Conference doubleheader today against rival Muskingum University at Mose Morehead Field. The games were originally scheduled for Saturday, April 30, but rescheduled due to inclement weather. The Yellow Jackets won the first game, 5-3, and the Fighting Muskies captured the nightcap, 8-7. The 2016 OAC Tournament starts on Thursday.

With its split, BW (21-18, 13-5 OAC) fell one run short of having a chance to beat Muskingum (17-20, 7-11 OAC) in the rightcap and tie Otterbein University for the OAC regular season title. BW is already assured of a spot in this week's OAC Tournament which starts on Thursday in Westerville, Ohio and at Otterbein University. The Yellow Jackets tied OAC arch-rival Marietta College (25-19, 13-5 OAC regular season) for second place but will be the number three seed. The Yellow Jackets will play Marietta, the No.2 seed, in the first round of the four-team, double-elimination tourney. Otterbein (30-8 overall, 14-4 OAC) won the regular season title and is the top seed. It is the host school and all games will be played at Fishbaugh Field barring inclement weather.  Games times are still TBA.

In addition, the nightcap loss ended a nine-game winning streak for BW. That was one win shy of tying a schiool record. Despite the split, BW is playing great baseball offensively and defensively right now and has won 13 of its last 16 contests.

In the opener, BW scored once in the top of the third and two more in the fourth to build a 3-0 lead. Muskingum made it 3-1 with a run in the fourth. The Jacket lead grew to 5-1 with two tallies in the sixth. The Muskies tried to fight back with single runs in the seventh and eighth, but it wasn't enough and BW won its ninth straight game.

On the mound, senior right-hander Alex Albright (North Royalton) pitched the first seven innings to improve to 6-3 this season. He allowed six hits and two runs (both unearned), struck out five and did not walk a batter. Senior righty Tom Loeffler (Shaker Heights) pitched the eighth and ninth innings, allowed two hits, one unearned run, struck out three and walked one to earn his second save this season.

At the plate, the the Yellow Jackets outhit the Fighting Muskies, 13-8.  Sophomore third baseman Spencer Badia (Bellaire), who carries a perfect 4.0 grade point average, led the offense and was 4-for-5 with a run scored, a stolen base and a run batted-in (RBI). Three other Yellow Jackets, senior three-time All-OAC pitcher/ shortsop Mark Zimmerman (Akron/ Green), junior All-OAC 2B Cole Nieto (Brunswick/ Cleveland St. Ignatius) and senior three-time Academic All-OAC center fielder John Taylor (Stow/ Hudson) each had a pair of base hits. Zimmerman was 2-for-5, Nieto was 2-for-5 and Taylor was 2-for-4 with an RBI. In addition, junior shortstop Steve Montgomery (Canton/ Central Catholic) scored twice.

In the nightcap, the Fighting Muskies made BW play from behind the whole game. MU scored once in the first, three times in the third and three more in the fifth to build a 7-0 advantage. BW fought back with two runs in the top of the seventh and eighth innings to make it 7-4. The Muskies got a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to lead, 8-4, and they ended up needing that run. The Jackets got a three-run homer from sophomore catcher Trent Kaltenbach (Plain City/ Jonathan Alder) in the top of the ninth to make it 8-7, but could not get the tying run home.

On the mound, senior right-hander Connor Murphy (Westford, Mass/ Northeast) started and pitched the first three innings. He took the loss to fall to 0-4 this season. He was followed by junior Logan Heffernan (Lebanon) for one and two-third innings and he was followed by Loeffler. Loeffler kept BW in the game and gave them a chance to win as he threw three and one-third innings, allowed three hits and one run, struck out four and did not walk a batter. The home and run he allowed broke a streak of 17 and one-third innings without allowing an earned run. The first inning earned run that the Muskies scored also broke a BW team streak of 29 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run.

At the plate, the Yellow Jackets outhit the Muskies, 12-11. Kaltenbach led the way by going 3-for-4 with a run scored and his eighth-inning three-run homer. In addition, Badia was 2-for-5 with a run scored and a double, Zimmerman was 2-for-5 with an RBI, and Montgomery was 2-for-3 with a run scored. In addition, Nieto drove in two runs.

The winner of the OAC Tournament receives an automatic berth in the 2016 NCAA Division III national tournament. The regional tournaments begin the week of May 17 and the College World Series is the week of May 24. The Yellow Jackets have participated in the past two NCAA Division III national tournaments. BW advanced to its first-ever Division III College Baseball World Series in 2014, and qualified for the regional tourney a year ago.