Big Innings, Bullpen Help Baseball Eliminate Ashland, 13-7

Big Innings, Bullpen Help Baseball Eliminate Ashland, 13-7

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Two huge innings at the plate and a tremendous effort out of the bullpen by senior Dustin Cowart (Hoover, Ala.) carried Ohio Dominican's baseball team to a 13-7 win over Ashland on Saturday in day three action at the NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament.

The Panthers improve to 34-16 as they fought off elimination for a second straight day, and No. 4 seed ODU will take on Quincy at noon CT (1 p.m. ET) Sunday in another elimination for both teams. Quincy, the No. 5 seed, defeated ODU 8-3 to open up the tournament on Thursday, but lost to Illinois Springfield on Friday.

ODU pounded out 18 hits against No. 6 seed Ashland, which saw its season end at 33-22, and was carried by a six-run fifth inning and a five-run ninth inning. Junior Colin Kaucher (Toledo, Ohio) helped spark the Panthers with a 4-for-4 effort while also drawing a walk and being hit by a pitch, scoring three runs.

Sophomore Joey Machuga (Canfield, Ohio) went 3-for-6 and juniors Brad Hull (Gahanna, Ohio) and Chris Sackett (Loveland, Ohio) each had a pair of hits as well.

Meanwhile, Cowart allowed just one base runner in his three innings of relief, entering with a 7-4 lead in the sixth and keeping the Eagles off the board. He struck out four while matching a season-high in innings pitched

Senior Max Banke (Oakwood, Ohio) started the scoring by lifting a solo shot over the wall in left to lead off the second inning, his second home run of the season and in his career. Ashland, though, struck right back with a solo homer of its own to draw even in the bottom half.

The score remained that way until the fifth when the Panthers batted around in the top half. Junior Noah Bland (Oberlin, Ohio) and senior Justin Childers (Pickerington, Ohio) walked to start the frame, and Kaucher followed by pulling a single through the left side to score Bland.

That was the first of what would turn into five straight hits in the inning as Machuga doubled into the gap in right-center, chasing home Childers and Kaucher, and Sackett followed with his own RBI double to right field to plate Machuga and make it 5-1.

Banke then drilled a line drive base hit past the first baseman and junior Jace Komminsk (Westerville, Ohio) doubled over the head of the center fielder to bring in Sackett. Senior Cody Paterniti (Chardon, Ohio) hit a line drive to center that resulted in a sac fly, scoring Banke, and extending the lead to 7-1.

Ashland countered with three runs in its half of the fifth to close to within 7-4, but senior Matt Kittelberger (Massillon, Ohio) left two runs with a weak fly out to right.

Cowart entered for the sixth and worked a perfect inning, bookended with punchouts, then set the side down in order in the seventh with a pair of groundouts and coming back from a 3-1 count for a strikeout.

ODU tacked on a run in the eighth as Kaucher was hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch, then took third on another wild pitch. Sackett fought back from a two-strike count and dumped a single into left to put ODU in front 8-4.

Cowart then kept Ashland off the board again in the eighth, ending that inning with another punchout, and the Panthers broke the game open in the ninth.

Komminsk and Paterniti both walked to start the inning and moved up on a wild pitch. Hull then put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Komminsk, and Bland drilled a 3-0 pitch into center for an RBI basehit.

Childers followed with a two-run single and junior Genesis Hillard (Cincinnati, Ohio) lined an RBI basehit as well to cap the scoring for the Panthers, bumping the cushion to 13-4.

Kittelberger picked up the win for ODU, allowing four runs in 5.0 innings of work, and improved to 7-5 on the spring.

Contact: Scott Miles