Springfield, Ohio – Despite a strong pitching performance from sophomore right-hander Rusty Hayhurst, the Wittenberg University Baseball team dropped a 2-1 non-conference decision against visiting Ohio Northern on Tuesday night at Carleton Davidson Stadium. The Tigers now sit at 15-13 overall on the year, and will take a 6-6 league record into this Saturday's key NCAC doubleheader at Allegheny. The Tigers and Gators are currently part of a heated race in the NCAC standings for the coveted third and fourth positions in the standings.
After the two squads played the first five scoreless innings in nearly an hour of actual time, the Polar Bears finally broke through with two runs off Hayhurst in the top of the sixth inning. After issuing a walk and a double to lead off the inning, ONU's Matt Burkett drove home the first run on a groundout to third, while Caleb Thomas followed with an RBI single to right that scored what would eventually be the game-winning run.
After a scoreless sixth for the Tigers, they did push one run across in the bottom of the seventh in unconventional fashion. With the bases loaded and two outs, sophomore Hayden Knox hit a grounder up the middle that appeared to result in not outs for the Polar Bears. However, junior Ryan Probst over slid second base and was tagged out, but not before junior Patrick Kenny could race home for third for the Tigers' lone run of the game.
The Tigers threatened again in the eighth as sophomore Tanner Boros smacked a one-out single to right center, but the inning quickly came to an abrupt end in the next at bat as senior Matt Baker laced a liner up the middle that was snagged by ONU pitcher Josh Mohr and quickly turned into a double play as Boros was caught leaning too far off first on the play.
Hayhurst was solid in 5.2 innings of work as he struck out two batters and allowed just the two earned runs on three total hits over the course of the game. Senior Brandon Beegle came in for relief of Hayhurst in the sixth inning and kept the Polar Bear bats at bay for the remainder of the game as he closed out the game with 3.1 innings of scoreless work.
With just five hits in the game, sophomore Mason Davis led the Tigers' lineup by going 2-for-3 at the plate to up his season average to .351.
The Tigers hit the road tomorrow (4/24) for a non-conference, single nine-inning game at Wilmington, before venturing up to Meadville, Pennsylvania, on Saturday for the key NCAC doubleheader against the Gators. The Tigers then return home on Sunday (4/28) for a non-conference DH against Rose-Hulman that will feature two seven-inning games.