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BW Baseball Team Beats to JCU, 6-5, at OAC Tourney, Plays Otterbein Next

Cole Nieto
Cole Nieto
WESTERVILLE, Ohio – The third-seeeded Baldwin Wallace University baseball team defeated Ohio Athletic Conference and Cleveland cross-town rival and No.4-seed John Carroll University, 6-5, in the second round of the 2016 OAC Tournament on Fishbaugh Field at host and top-seed Otterbein University.

The victory moves the Yellow Jackets (22-19) into this evening's loser's bracket final against host Otterbein (32-10) which lost earlier today to unbeaten and No.2-seed Marietta College (27-15). The winner of that game will play Marietta for the championship tomorrow at Otterbein.. JCU (19-22) ends its season.

The Blue Streaks scored three times in the top of the second inning and another run in the fifth to build a 4-0 lead. In the bottom of the sixth, BW got three straight singles, the last by four-time first-team All-OAC shortstop Mark Zimmerman (Akron/ Green) to score sophomore third baseman Spencer Badia (Bellaire), who opened the inning with a single, to make it 4-1. A wild pitch brought home junior two-time All-OAC 2B/ right fielder Cole Nieto (Brunswick/ Cleveland St. Ignatius) to cut JCU's lead in half at 4-2. BW tied the game at 4-4 when junior designated hitter Kevin Hagen (Brecksville/ Cleveland St. Ignatius) singled home Zimmerman and three-time first-team All-OAC first baseman/ designated hitter Hunter Handel (Akron/ Green), who reached base via a fielder's choice.

BW took a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh when senior three-time Academic All-OAC center fielder John Taylor (Stow/ Hudson) reached on a Blue Streak error. He moved to second on a single by Nieto. Taylor and Nieto each moved up a base when Zimmerman laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt.  The duo scored the go-ahead and insurance runs when Handel singled up the middle to drive them home.

The Blue Streaks rallied in the top of the ninth when they got their first two batters on base via a single and a hit-batsman. After a failed sacrifice bunt yielded the first out, the runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. The runner from third scored on the second out, a ground out. The runner from second then advanced to third via a failed pickoff attempt, but senior right-hander Alex Albright (North Royalton) struck out the final JCU batter to earn the victory in relief.

On the mound, sophomore two-time All-OAC left-hander Evan Lovick (Mentor) started and pitched the first three innings and receive a no-decision. He is 3-1 with a fine 1.07 earned run average (ERA). He allowed five hits and three runs (all earned), struck out four JCU batters and walked two. He was followed to the mound by Albright who pitched the final six innings to earn the win and improve to 7-3 this season. He allowed four hits and two runs (both earned), struck out four and walked just one.

At the plate, each team had nine hits.  BW was led by the quartet of Badia, Nieto, Zimmerman and Hagen who each had a pair of base hits.  Badia was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Nieto was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.  Zimmerman was 2-for-4 with a run scored and a run batted-in (RBI). Hagen came off the bench and went 2-for-2 with the game-tying 2-run single in the sixth.

The winner of the OAC Tournament receives an automatic berth in the 2016 NCAA Division III national tournament. The regional tournaments begin next weekend.