By Jay Garneau
HANOVER, Ind. - The Ohio Northern baseball team split a non-conference doubleheader with Hanover (Ind.) at the L.S. Ayres Athletic Complex Saturday.
The Polar Bears (5-1) won the nightcap 10-7, while the Panthers (4-5) were able to pull out a 9-8 victory in the opener.
In his season debut, junior Erik Stegman went 3-for-6 with a double, home run and three RBIs, while senior Matt Rader went 5-for-8 with three RBIs on the day to lead the Polar Bears.
In Game 2, Ohio Northern got on the board first in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead.
Freshman Kevin Obarski and junior Adam Yunker added back-to-back triples to plate the first run, before Rader singled in Yunker to push the lead to two runs.
The Polar Bears broke it open in the next frame, adding seven more runs to make it a 9-0 game.
Senior Greg Gibbons led off the inning with a single, which was followed by an RBI double by senior Brett Katana. Stegman then drilled his first home run of the year to increase the lead to five.
Sophomore Mark Hayes, Obarski, and sophomore Eric Yunker reached base consecutively, before a Rader fielder's choice scored Hayes. Freshman Josh Ward then singled home Yunker to make it 7-0.
After a Gibbons walk, Katana doubled for the second time of the inning, to increase the scoring margin to 9.
Hanover chipped away at the lead, adding two runs in each of the fourth and fifth frames before scoring three more in the sixth to make the score 9-7.
A double by Stegman was answered with an RBI single by senior Loren Fleischman to add an insurance run for ONU in the top of the seventh.
Senior Kevin Sigg struck out three in the bottom of the seventh to close out the game.
Sophomore Ryan Damman improved to 2-0, tossing 5 innings and striking out three.
Obarski finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk in his first career start at first base.
In the opening game, the Panthers scored six unanswered runs, including two in the bottom of the seventh, to edge ONU 9-8.
Hanover scored the first three runs of the game, before the Polar Bears battled back with three of their own in the third inning.
After the first two outs were recorded, four straight singles by senior Aaron Lee, Rader, Adam Yunker (RBI) and Gibbons (2 RBIs) tied up the game.
Another two-out rally helped ONU add five more runs the following inning to give Northern an 8-3 lead.
Eric Yunker started things off with a walk, and ONU again pounded away with singles by Obarski, Stegman (RBI), Rader (RBI), Adam Yunker (2 RBIs) and Gibbons (RBI) to plate ONU's five runs.
Hanover responded with one run in the fourth and three more in the fifth inning, to cut the lead to 8-7.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hanover's Will Pappano and Chris Blankman each knocked in runs with two outs to win the game for the Panthers.
Katana and Gibbons each had three hits on the day, continuing to move up the ranks on Ohio Northern's career hit list. Katana is now tied for 22nd with 132 hits, while Gibbons moves into a tie for 33rd with 115.
The Polar Bears return to action Sunday when they travel to Goshen (Ind.) for a twinbill, with Game 1 beginning at 1:30 pm.