ADA, Ohio - Less than a week after the Bluffton University baseball team gift wrapped Ohio Northern a 10-7 victory thanks to five errors and eight unearned runs, the Polar Bears returned the favor with two innings of miscues on Wednesday, April 17. Bluffton improved to 16-15 with the 7-4 victory, while ONU slipped to 15-14 on the season.
Trailing 4-1 going to the top of the eighth, Bluffton made hay when ONU starter Blake Lester went to the bench. The Polar Bear hurler, brother of Bluffton volleyball middle hitter Carly Lester, was dominant during his seven innings of work, fanning seven and allowing just one run on six hits.
Senior Colin Gregory (Fremont/Clyde) ignited the rally when he reached base on ONU's second error of the inning. His grounder plated Jaxon Rogan (Marysville) and Jeff Strayer (Columbus/Thomas Worthington). One out later, a Zane Martin (Ottoville) sacrifice fly made it 4-4. The visitors went ahead 5-4 when Adam Duncan (Northwood/Lake) doubled home Lenny Winiarski (Cincinnati/LaSalle).
Rogan opened the ninth with a double to left center before the wheels completely fell off for the Polar Bears. Four straight walks and a couple wild pitches pushed the lead to 7-4 going to the bottom of the frame. Senior Dante D'Andrea (Westerville/North) returned to the bump for his second inning of work and ONU was no match for him as he faced just seven batters for his two-inning save.
Strayer went 2-of-5 with two runs scored. Gregory drove in two runs and Jacob Latkofsky (Temperence, MI/Ida) crossed the dish twice.
Jordan Stutzman (Millersburg/West Holmes) gave the Beavers a beautiful start, allowing four runs, just one earned, on seven hits in four innings of work. Zac Nobis (Bryan), Garrett O'Reilly (Galena/Orange) and Carson Curnutte (Hilliard/Hilliard Davidson) each tossed a shutout inning. Curnutte moved to 3-2 thanks to Bluffton's four-run eighth. D'Andrea was superb in locking up his fourth save of the season.
Bluffton is back in action on Saturday, April 20, when the Beavers welcome Hanover College for a Heartland Conference doubleheader. The first game is slated for 12 p.m.