By Blake Moore
ADA — Two strong pitching performances from junior right-handers Jack Schaller (Bowling Green) and Nate Bye (Thorntown, Ind./Western Boone) propelled the Ohio Northern baseball program to a 6-2 and 6-1 sweep over Ohio Athletic Conference league leader John Carroll Saturday afternoon at Schweickert Field in University Heights.
With the victories, the Polar Bears even their overall record at 13-13 this season, including a 4-6 mark in conference play. JCU drops to 19-9 overall and 7-3 in OAC action following their two losses.
Schaller earned his team-best fourth pitching victory after tossing seven innings and surrendering just one earned run in Saturday's opener. The junior from Bowling Green scattered six hits in the contest and added a strikeout to the ledger.
Bye put together a similar line in game two, conceding six hits and an earned run in 8.2 innings. In addition, the right-hander struck out six batsman, giving him a team-high 31 strikeouts on the season.
At the plate, senior Caleb Thomas (Strongsville) had an impressive seven-for-ten performance over the two-game series. The Strongsville native also added two RBI and a pair of doubles in game number one.
Meanwhile, junior Phil Buckingham (Wayne/Elmwood) and sophomore Matthew Burkett (Maumee) aided the offensive output with multiple RBI on Saturday. The former finished two-for-seven with a team-high three RBI while the latter went four-for-eight with two doubles and two RBI in the opener.
During game one, the Blue Streaks jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage after outfielder Derek Penman raced home on a wild pitch in the first frame.
The Polar Bears bounced back immediately with a run in the second frame to even the score at 1-1. Freshman catcher Tyler Randick (Flushing, Mich.) found open real estate in left field for an RBI single, bringing home Buckingham to put ONU on the board.
After four scoreless frames, the Northern offense hung a four-spot in the seventh inning to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Freshman Chayten Overholt (Delphos/Lincolnview) kicked off the scoring flurry with an RBI single to right field before Burkett and Thomas slapped back-to-back doubles into right field to end the run.
The Blue Streaks added one more in the seventh, but the Polar Bears matched the score with an RBI double from Thomas in the ninth to secure the 6-2 win.
In game two, Northern bounded ahead 1-0 after senior Luke Klinehoffer (Zanesville/John Glenn) scored on an error at second base.
John Carroll leveled the score in the sixth frame after shortstop Aaron Zawadzki launched a sacrifice fly into center field for JCU's lone run in the contest.
From there, Buckingham brought home two runs in the seventh with a two-RBI single through the right side. ONU tacked on three more runs in the ninth, creating an insurmountable 6-1 lead for the weekend sweep.
Ohio Northern will return to action on Tuesday, April 16 with an OAC doubleheader against Otterbein at Wander Field. Game one is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch.