ADA — The Ohio Northern baseball team not only battled Bluffton, but also a strong wind in a double header split Tuesday afternoon at ONU's Wander Field.
The Polar Bears (7-10) took game one by a score of 8-4 and Bluffton (6-9) pounded out 12 hits in an 11-6 game two victory.
ONU senior Mark Sankovich, bidding for his fifth complete game of the season, went 6 2/3 innings in game one, giving up five runs on seven hits and picked up the win to improve his record to 4-1 on the season.
Will Gerber (1-2) took the loss for the Beavers, allowing seven runs on seven hits in five innings.
Offensively, sophomore Brett Katana led the Polar Bears, going 2-for-2 with three runs batted in.
Fellow sophomore Loren Fleischman was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Tony Moore and Timothy Kay each had three hits for Bluffton.
Kay swatted his first home run of the season in game one. Northern scored a pair of runs in the first on a sacrifice fly by Katana and an RBI single by Drew Robinson.
Kay's three-run home run in the top of the third gave Bluffton a 3-2 lead but Katana doubled home Fleischman to even the score at 3-3 through three innings.
After the first two ONU batters struck out in the bottom of the fourth, Northern broke the game open with four runs on four hits and two Bluffton errors.
Katana added another RBI single in the sixth to stake the Polar Bears to an 8-3 lead.
Bluffton scored a pair of runs in the seventh but Northern held on for the 8-5 victory.
The Beavers started game two by scoring four runs in the bottom half of the first inning.
The big hit in the inning was a two-run single by Steve Roberts that scored Chris McPherson and Kay.
Freshman Adam Grof singled home a run in the top of the second and Brandon Hubbard scored freshman Mike Hoelzel on a ground out to pull Northern within two, 4-2. Bluffton strung together three more hits in the bottom of the second to get those runs back and again take a four-run lead at 6-2.
In the third, Robinson took advantage of the strong wind blowing out to right and lofted a long home run to right center, his third of the season, to make the score 6-4 in favor of Bluffton.
Kay connected on his third straight RBI single of the game in the bottom of the third to extend the Bluffton lead to 7-4.
The big blast was yet to come however.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Moore walked and A.J. Ramthun doubled to right to put runners at second and third.
Kay reached on an infield single and then Mike Ramthun blasted a grand slam deep to right to the Beavers comfortably out in front 11-4.
The home run was the first of the season for Ramthun.
ONU added a pair of runs in the seventh but Bluffton's Aaron Tuttle came on to get the final two outs for the 11-6 victory.
Bluffton starter Adrian Fritch improved to 1-0 on the season while Northern's Drew Wieland dropped to 1-2.
The Polar Bears will be back in action on Thursday when they host Manchester (Ind.) at 2 pm.