By Blake Moore
ADA — The Ohio Northern baseball program dropped a tight-knit, 7-4 contest against area-rival Bluffton in a midweek nonconference affair Wednesday afternoon at Wander Field, concluding the 2019 home-and-home series between the two programs.
With the loss, the Polar Bears fall to 15-14 overall this season. Meanwhile, the Beavers improve to 16-15 on the year.
Sophomore infielder Michael Rocco (Orlando, Fla./Zionsville, Ind.) guided the Polar Bear offense with a two-for-four outing, which produced a team-high two RBI.
Overall, the Polar Bears totaled 10 hits in Wednesday's loss while Bluffton registered eight.
On the mound, senior right-handed pitcher Blake Lester (Chesepeake) had a strong showing, surrendering just one run on six hits in 7.0 innings. The Chesepeake native also recorded a career-high seven strikeouts in Wednesday's showdown with Bluffton.
In the second inning, Ohio Northern kicked off the scoring with three runs following two BU fielding miscues. Buckingham and Davis came around to score on a Jaxon Rogan error at shortstop to make the lead 2-0 before Rocco laced an RBI single back up the middle for a 3-0 cushion early.
After Bluffton scored once in the top of the fourth, Rocco responded with another RBI single into left field to score freshman catcher Tyler Randick (Flushing, Mich.).
The two sides remained quiet until the eighth frame when the Beavers put four runs on the scoreboard to take a 5-4 advantage. BU added two more runs in the ninth to secure the season series split.
Ohio Northern will return to action on Saturday afternoon with a pivotal Ohio Athletic Conference showdown at Marietta. Game one is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch.