COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Dominican baseball team returns to action this weekend with three games against former conference rival, Grand Valley State.
SETTING THE SCENE: The Panthers, considered the home team for this weekend's series, open play against the Lakers at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22. ODU and the GVSU will play again Saturday before a scheduled first pitch at noon on Sunday, Feb. 23. All three games, originally scheduled in Johnson City, Tenn., will be played in Harrogate, Tenn. at Lincoln Memorial University.
LAST TIME OUT: ODU is coming off a three-game set at Lindenwood University last weekend. The Panthers (0-3) were unable to scratch across any runs in the series, giving the team its longest scoring drought in its NCAA Division II era, 30 innings dating back to the end of the 2019 season. The Lions had an inning of three-plus runs in each of the three games to secure the sweep.
BATTING LEADERS: Senior Joey Machuga (Canfield, Ohio) found success at the plate in the opening series of the season, recording four hits in 10 at-bats. Machuga also walked twice, giving him a .500 on-base percentage. The senior has a hit in all three games this season and has a .314 career batting average at ODU. He also showed some power last season, hitting four of his six career home runs.
Another trio of Panthers recorded multiple hits a week ago, including freshman Brennen Hunt (Ashland, Ohio), who had a pair of doubles in his collegiate debut. Hunt comes to ODU after being selected to three all-State teams at Ashland High School. He currently holds Ashland's season batting record at .554, which he set his senior year. Graduates Cory Contini (Dover, Ohio) and Roger Danison (Carroll, Ohio), also in their first seasons with the Black & Gold, recorded two hits each as well.
ON THE MOUND: Highlighting the opening weekend on the mound were senior Logan Giddings (Pickerington, Ohio) and sophomore Jaden Tabler (Van Buren, Ohio). Neither pitcher allowed a run and are two of 69 players who meet the national statistical requirements and have a 0.00 earned run average this year. Giddings pitched three innings in relief in Game Two at Lindenwood, allowing three hits and striking out two batters. Tabler pitched the final five innings of the series, as he conceded only one hit, retired the final seven batters he faced, and struck out three Lions. Tabler's five inning outing ties the longest of his collegiate career.
SCOUTING THE LAKERS: Grand Valley State will be opening its 2020 season this weekend and is coming off a 2019 campaign that saw the team go 15-27-1 overall and 8-16-1 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Lakers were picked to finish fifth in the eight-team GLIAC Coaches Preseason Poll. Senior Joe Laudont returns for GVSU, as he hit .358 with three home runs and eight doubles last season en route to a second team all-GLIAC award. Rylan Peetes is the reigning GLIAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year after carrying a 2.85 ERA in 47.1 innings of work.
SERIES HISTORY: The former GLIAC rivals have met 28 times, with GVSU holding a 17-10-1 edge in the all-time series. ODU though, has won each of the past four meetings, including a 10-6 neutral-site decision last spring. The Panthers have won all four meetings by four or more runs.
UP NEXT: Ohio Dominican will host another three-game neutral site series next weekend against Kutztown. The Panthers and Golden Bears are scheduled for a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday, Feb. 29, before a single game at noon, Sunday, March 1. All three outings will be played in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Contact: Tyler Jester