Late Heroics, Homers Lift Baseball To 18-16 Win

Late Heroics, Homers Lift Baseball To 18-16 Win

NORTH CANTON, Ohio – A six-run ninth inning rally helped spark Ohio Dominican's baseball team to a wild 18-16 victory in 12 innings in game two of a doubleheader at Walsh on Wednesday afternoon in GLIAC play.

The Panthers (16-13, 7-7 GLIAC) smashed seven home runs in the game, the second most in school history and tied for the most in GLIAC history, to help salvage a split on the afternoon after suffering an 11-1 setback in the opener.

In game two, Walsh (21-9, 10-4 GLIAC) had scored nine unanswered runs and led 16-10 entering the ninth. Junior Lee Sponseller (Mason, Ohio) and senior Tony Evans (Medway, Ohio) went back-to-back with solo homers with one out to start the rally. Junior Justin Childers (Pickerington, Ohio) reached on an error and sophomores Colin Kaucher (Toledo, Ohio) and Genesis Hillard (Cincinnati, Ohio) each singled to make it 16-13.

After a pop out, sophomore Noah Bland (Oberlin, Ohio) drew a walk, and junior Cody Paterniti (Chardon, Ohio) delivered a two-run single through the right side to bring the Panthers within 16-15.

Bland then came in to tie the score on a wild pitch and cap the rally.

The Cavaliers put two runners on base in the ninth, but freshman Logan Brewer (Ashland, Ohio) induced a pop out and fly out to end the threat.

Both teams stranded two runners in the 10th inning, and the Cavaliers put two more on board in the 11th. Freshman Sam Phillips (Indianapolis, Ind.), making his collegiate debut on the mound, kept the Cavaliers off the board with a punchout and a flyout to left to keep the game even at 16-16.

Freshman Joey Machuga (Canfield, Ohio) started the Panther 12th with a double to left, and Sponseller followed with an RBI double down the left field to make it 17-16. An RBI grounder from Childers later in the frame put ODU in front 18-16.

Phillips then set the Walsh side down in order in the bottom of the inning to pick up his first collegiate victory.

Sponseller had a huge performance at the plate, finishing 5-for-7 with two home runs, two doubles, three RBIs and five runs scored. Evans hit a pair of dingers as well for his first career multi-homer game and drove in three. Bland finished with three hits and Childers knocked in three while scoring four runs himself.

ODU's seven home runs were just one shy of matching a school record of eight home runs, which happened on May 12, 1986 against Mount Vernon Nazarene. The last time ODU hit at least six home runs in a game occurred on April 5, 2002 at Malone.

The 18 runs scored were a season-high and the most in a game since plating 19 against Alderson Broaddus on March 9, 2014, and ODU's 22 hits in this game were also a season-best and the most since registering 22 at Findlay on March 28, 2012.

ODU had jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings. Evans hit a two-run shot to left-center in the first inning, and later in the frame, senior Kyle Burson (Brunswick, Ohio) also hit a two-run blast to left.

The Panthers turned a triple play in the bottom of the first inning as Burson caught a liner with two on and nobody out and started the turn.

Sponseller then hit a solo homer to right with two men down in the second inning to give the Panthers the five run lead, and after Walsh scored an unearned run in the second, Childers started the third with a solo blast to left to make it 6-1 in favor of ODU.

The Cavaliers countered with six runs in the third as another Panther error kept the inning alive, but ODU regained the lead in the fourth. Childers had an RBI single, Kaucher hit a two-run homer to left, and Bland doubled down the left field line to put the Panthers in front 10-7.

However, Walsh scored twice in the fourth and fifth innings to go back in front 11-10, then seemingly seized control with a five run seventh inning to build its 16-10 cushion.

The Panthers overcame seven defensive errors in the contest, which led to 11 unearned runs for the Cavaliers.

Phillips pitched 2.0 innings and walked one without allowing a hit. Brewer worked 1.2 hitless innings, and freshman Brennan Hatten (Fairfield, Ohio) also kept the Cavaliers scoreless in his first outing of the year.

In the opener, Walsh broke the game open early with a seven run second inning to grab an 8-0 lead. ODU's lone run came in the third on an RBI grounder by Hillard.

The Panthers finished with eight hits but left 10 runners on base. Sophomore Brad Hull (Gahanna, Ohio) went 3-for-3 and Paterniti had a pair of hits as well.

Ohio Dominican will head to Ashland for the first two of a four game series on Saturday, with a 1 p.m. start time slated for game one.

Contact: Scott Miles