BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University baseball team swept a pair of key Ohio Athletic Conference contests against OAC and Cleveland cross-town rival John Carroll University on Seniors' Day, 6-3 and 7-4, at Fisher's Field. The two victories mean that BW will host the 2019 OAC Tournament, starting next Thursday in Berea. Only one other team has guaranteed its spot in the four-team event where the winner receives the OAC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III National Tournament in two weeks.
BW (25-11, 14-4 OAC), who has at least a share of the regular season title for the first time since the 1988 season and eighth overall, plated six runs off nine hits in game one. One run was plated in the fourth, three in the fifth, and two more insurance runs in the seventh to seal the 6-3 victory. John Carroll (23-15, 10-8 OAC) scored three runs off nine hits. Despite its two losses, JCU still has a chance to make the tourney field, but it depends on how the rescheduled Sunday doubleheaders of Marietta College (8-8 OAC) at Otterbein University (8-8 OAC) and Ohio Northern University (9-7 OAC) at Wilmington College play out.
The Yellow Jacket offense was led by senior catcher Asa Adams (Sarver, Pa./Knoch), who went 2-for-4 with two RBI singles and also threw out a man stealing. Junior left fielder Jacob Bonner (Akron/Archbishop Hoban) went 2-of-2 at the dish. Senior two-time Academic All-OAC right fielder Reese Albright (Parma/North Royalton) had an RBI single in the fifth, scored twice, and stole two bases. Junior designated hitter Sam Sustersic (Richfield/Revere) drove in a run with his double in the fifth and scored a run. Senior first baseman Philip Wells (Buffalo, N.Y./Saint Joseph's Collegiate) tallied a hit and a stolen base while senior second baseman Kyle Pennington (Wadsworth) scored a run, stole a base, and drove in a run with a fielder's choice in the seventh.
Earning his fourth win on the season was sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Smith (Mentor), as he pitched a career-high 8.2 innings with a career-high 10 strikeouts, and allowed three runs(two earned) off nine hits. Getting the final out and save was senior left-handed pitcher Jack Raines (Akron/Archbishop Hoban) for his career-high fourth on the year.
In game two, BW scored seven runs off nine hits as two came in the first, one in the second and third, two in the fifth and one more in the seventh. The two tallies in the fifth broke a 4-4 tie. JCU plated four runs off seven hits.
Wells, who tops BW with a .379 batting average, led the offense with two hits, including an RBI single in the first, and scored two runs. Sophomore shortstop Alex Ludwick (Brunswick/Padua Franciscan) had one hit with three runs-batted in, including a two-run double in the fifth, and also scored once. Sophomore third baseman Tony LoParo (Avon/Elyria Catholic) went 2-for-3 at the plate with one double and an RBI single in the third, while scoring a run. Adams added a run in the seventh with his sacrifice fly to center and Sustersic recorded an RBI with his double to center in the first. Albright and Bonner each recorded one hit and one run scored.
On the mound in game two was senior American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-Mideast Region and All-OAC right-handed pitcher Danny Cody (Medina/ Brecksville-Broadview Hts.). He pitched six strong innings, allowed four runs off six hits and struck out seven en route to his ninth win on the campaign. The victory also made Cody the first BW hurler to ever win nine games in a season. He improved to 9-0 with a 2.43 earned run average and an OAC-leading 98 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched. Raines earned his career-high fifth save after tossing three innings of one-hit and no-run baseball and struck out three.
The Yellow Jackets will hit the diamond next on Sunday, May 5 for a non-conference doubleheader at La Roche (Pa.) College, with game one scheduled for 1 p.m and game two for 4 p.m. BW will conclude the regular season after a single, nine-inning game at Mt. Aloysius on Monday, May 6 at 3:30 p.m.
YELLOW JACKET NOTES
THE OAC TOURNAMENT BRIEFLY: The 2019 OAC Tournament begins on Thursday in Berea. Please visit the BW and OAC web sites for updates and the official schedule of games.
THE DIVISION III MIDEAST REGIONAL RANKINGS: Prior to playing LaRoche (Pa.) on Sunday, BW was ranked fifth in the second NCAA Division III Mideast Region rankings. Denison University (30-5) in first, Heidelberg University (25-11) is second, Case Western Reserve (22-13) third, The College of Wooster (21-8) fourth, BW fifth, Adrian, Mich. College (28-6) sixth, Washington & Jefferson, Pa. College (24-8) seventh, LaRoche (24-11) eighth, Rose-Hulman, Ind. Institute of Technology (22-9) ninth, John Carroll (22-12) tenth and Ohio Northern (19-15) eleventh).
BW VERSUS REGIONAL OPPONENTS: BW has an 11-4 record against teams that were ranked in the latest Division III regional rankings. Against Mideast Region teams, BW is 7-3.
CODY CLOSING IN ON SEASONAL STRIKEOUT MARK: A year ago, Danny Cody struck out 100 batters to set the BW seasonal record. He currently has 98 whiffs and is two away from tying his own mark.
LUDWICK TIED FOR SEASONAL TRIPLES MARK: Sophomore shortstop Alex Ludwick has six triples this spring. He is tied with Academic All-American Cody Kidd (2006) and speedster Nolan Neuschaefer (2010 and 2013) for the single-season record.