Lima, OH – The Barons baseball team has finished the regular season, and fell just short of their first Ohio Regional Campus Conference crown in almost 20 years. With an ORCC record of 10 & 2, the Barons find themselves one game back of Miami Hamilton, while still claiming the ORCC East Division Title, their first since the ORCC went to two divisions.
For the week, the Barons lost 3 and won only once. However, that one victory was very important as it secured their 2nd place ORCC finish along with a #2 seed in the upcoming Ohio Regional Campus State Tournament! The final game of the regular season was an absolute thriller as the Barons got the win by scoring 4 runs in the top half of the 7th inning to claim the 6 to 2 victory. In that top half of the 7th, Freshman David Wurst led off the inning with a single up the middle, Sophomore Alan Hankinson followed Wurst with a base on balls. Then, Coach Abe Ambroza called on Sophomore Steve Nungester to come out as a pinch hitter. Knowing his role, Nungester placed a sacrifice bunt perfectly down the third base line, moving both runners in to scoring position with Sophomore Adam Hemker coming to the plate. Wurst scored on the first pitch as it got by the catcher, and went to the backstop. Later in the at bat, Hemker laced a single to right field to score Hankinson and put the Barons up by two. The Barons weren’t done scoring though as Freshman Greg Patterson came up later in the inning with two outs and walked to put runners on 1st & 3rd. Freshman Max Milligan came on to run for Patterson, and quickly moved up to 2nd base with a nice stolen bag. Then, with two strikes on him, Freshman Dustin Craig stroked a single up the middle, scoring Hemker easily and on a very close play Milligan as well as he barreled in to home with a great head first slide to avoid the tag, thus putting the Barons up 6 to 2, where the score would stay after Freshman Cory Echols went back out and completed his game on the mound.
By getting the win, Echols raised his stellar season record to 7 & 1, allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and with 6 strikeouts. Offensively the Barons were led by Sophomore Outfielder Adam Hemker, as he went 3 for 4 at the plate, with a double, 2 runs scored, and an RBI. Freshman Dustin Craig also contributed offensively, as he went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.
With the regular season now over, Head Coach, Abe Ambroza was asked to reflect on the year. “Well, we have definitely had our ups and our downs this year. All in all, I am just extremely proud of this group of young men. They have absolutely put their heart and soul in to this season. To be this young and still go out and win 10 of our 12 ORCC games is just fantastic! Plus, at the same time I am seeing great effort and results from these men in the classroom too.” Ambroza was also asked about the stellar seasons by his 3 & 4 hitters. “Hemker is just a ball player. He comes ready to play every day, whether it’s conditioning in January, or a big conference game in April, he is focused and ready to go to work. He has been a leader for this team all year with that great approach, let alone the fact that he is leading the team with a batting average near .450 and 5 homeruns! Now Cory, he has been just a splendid addition this year. When he first came on in the fall, he was struggling to find it in a few ways. However, he put in the time to make some minor corrections, and well his numbers speak for themselves as he is 7 & 1 on the mound with an ERA of just over 3.00 & I think now 60 K’s! Offensively he’s been a catalyst as well, he has a batting average of .350, and a great on base percentage too as he has walked nearly 20 times this season.”
Ambroza added a few comments in regard to the Barons’ preparation for the upcoming Ohio Regional Campus tournament. “Our strength is our unity. I have told you about a few of our young men who have the stellar numbers. However, we have had contributions from every single person on our roster, at key moments throughout this season. We have 7 players with batting averages over .300! We have 3 players with more than 10 stolen bases. I believe we only have 2 or 3 guys that have struck out more times than they’ve worked a base on balls. It’s just all of those little things that we’ve done well all season, and gives me confidence that we are prepared to go in to the ORC Tournament and compete for a championship.”
The Barons will start tournament play at Beavers Field in Lancaster on Friday, May 7th at 5pm as they will be matched up with the #7 seed Hilltoppers of Ohio University at Chillicothe.