By Jay Garneau
ADA — The Ohio Northern baseball team used an excellent pitching performance by freshman Austin Price in Game 1 and a walk-off RBI single by senior Loren Fleischman in Game 2 to sweep Manchester (Ind.) 5-3 and 3-2 in a doubleheader at Wander Field Saturday afternoon.
With the wins, the Polar Bears improve to 11-1 on the season, while the Spartans fall to 5-5. ONU has now won seven consecutive contests.
The Polar Bears won Game 1 behind an outstanding pitching effort by freshman Price (3-0), who took a perfect game into the sixth inning.
Price tossed 5 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and only three hits, while striking out five batters.
Ohio Northern struck first in the bottom of the second inning. Seniors Brett Katana and Fleischman started the rally with back-to-back singles before junior Mike Hoelzel drilled his first homer of the year over the left field fence to give ONU a 3-0 lead.
The Polar Bears added two more runs in the fifth. Junior Adam Yunker and senior Greg Gibbons each led off with singles.
After they both advanced on a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by sophomore Matt Hampshire plated Yunker. A batter later, Katana doubled down the right field line to push the ONU lead to 5-0.
Manchester didn't have their first runner reach base until the top of the sixth, when they had three straight singles and a walk to start the inning.
Price forced a fielder's choice and then a popout to pick up the first two outs, before Katana came in and caused a foul out to escape the inning.
After two straight singles to start the top of the seventh for the Spartans, Katana forced a double play and added a strikeout to end the game and pick up his fourth save of the year.
In Game 2, the Polar Bears had to battle from behind to pick up the win.
Manchester scored a run in the fourth and picked up an unearned run in the sixth to grab a 2-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, Hampshire started the scoring with his third home run in the last two days to make it a 2-1 game.
Katana followed with a single to right field. After Eric Yunker sacrificed Katana to second with a bunt, Fleischman singled and moved Katana to third.
Junior Erik Stegman blooped one into right field to score Katana while Fleischman was forced out at second, tying the game at 2-2.
No more runs were scored until the game headed into extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, Hampshire doubled down the left field line to start the inning. After sophomore Chad Coward pinch ran for Hampshire and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Katana and Eric Yunker both walked to load up the bases.
Fleischman quickly responded, drilling a line drive down the left field line to bring Coward home for the winning run.
Hampshire finished the game 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and an RBI.
Sophomore Ryan Damman tossed 5.1 innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run, while striking out five.
Katana (1-1) picked up the win with 1.2 innings in relief, not allowing a base runner.
Picking up three hits on the day, Katana now has 140 in his career, tying him for 19th all time, while Gibbons added three hits, as well, giving him a total of 122 and moving him into 28th all time.
"These were two very big wins for us," head coach Justin Bergman said. "Our guys were excited and battled all day against a good team in Manchester, but our season goals are still ahead of us."
The Polar Bears will be back on the diamond Tuesday when they travel to Marian (Ind.) for a doubleheader beginning at 2 pm.