By Caleb Scott
WESTERVILLE — The Ohio Northern baseball team fell 4-2 to No. 1-seeded and host Otterbein in a heartbreaker on Thursday afternoon in the opening game of the 2018 Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament at Fishbaugh Field.
The Polar Bears fall to 27-14 overall, while the Cardinals improve to 29-12.
Sophomore Nate Bye (Thorntown, Ind./Western Boone) led the way for ONU on the afternoon on the mound, going six innings and fanning four batters.
Five Polar Bears recorded hits in the contest to pace ONU offensively.
After junior Luke Klinehoffer (Zanesfield/John Glenn) got on base following a Cardinal miscue, freshman Tyler Randick (Flushing, Mich.) knocked in the games first run with an infield ground out to give Northern an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Northern would continue to attack in the top of the second inning as senior Brandon Kasberg (Mentor) hit an infield single and drove home fellow senior Jordan Bostater (Bryan) to push the lead to 2-0.
The Cardinals were able to take advantage of a bases loaded seventh inning, plating two runs and knotting the game at 2-all.
Otterbein would hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to seal the 4-2 victory.
"You have to give credit to Otterbein," said head coach Gene Stechschulte. "Their kid isn't really a home run hitter, but he put a good bat on that ball at the end. That's baseball. Overall I thought we played very well. We had the early lead and missed on some opportunities to add to the lead."
"This group of guys has really worked hard to get to this point," said senior short stop Brandon Kasberg. "As freshman four years ago we set our sights on getting to this tournament. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of a tiebreaker our freshman year but we kept working and making it here is a great accomplishment. We certainly aren't out of this thing at all. We have to come back tomorrow ready to play and try to get right back into this tournament."
The Polar Bears will be back in action on Friday, May 11 as they take on the loser of the second contest of the OAC Tournament between No. 2-seeded Marietta and No. 3-seeded Baldwin Wallace.