Powell sixth OAC coach to win 500 games

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MARIETTA, Ohio – A chip and a chair. Despite some unfortunate and disappointing outcomes in recent weeks for the Otterbein baseball program, the Cardinals still had a seat at the table and a chance to play their way into the postseason Sunday afternoon at Don Schaly Stadium against host Marietta College.

The Cardinals needed help entering the final weekend of Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) play from Baldwin Wallace against John Carroll and/or Wilmington against Ohio Northern. They got just that beginning on Friday, as league-leader BW swept a doubleheader with JCU to keep Otterbein alive in the race for the fourt-team postseason event.

Otterbein, holding tiebreakers against the Blue Streaks, was back in control of its own destiny and just needed to win both games for a spot in. The Cardinals did exactly that against the Pioneers and actually ended up in a three-way deadlock with JCU and Ohio Northern at 10-8 in the league standings.

Ohio Northern, which swept both teams this season, emerged to warrant the No. 3 seed and resorted Otterbein and JCU back to head-to-head tiebreaker scenarios. Since the two sides split a series on Tuesday, they began to work from top-to-bottom in the standings until one team held a better result. It took getting down to sixth-place Mount Union, which Otterbein went 2-0 against this year and John Carroll only went 1-1.

The day also marked a notable milestone in both the Otterbein and OAC baseball record books, as head coach George Powell became just the sixth head coach in league history to reach 500 career victories. Powell, in his 20th season at the helm, now stands with an overall record of 501-350-1 since taking over the reins.

Game One (10-8 Win):

Otterbein wasted no time seizing the opportunity at hand, putting four-straight hitters on base to begin the game and ultimately opening a 4-0 advantage. Connor Brett delivered a 2-RBI single with the bases loaded, Tim Snyder laid down a perfect sac bunt with runners at the corners, and Matthew Gibson rocketed a timely two-out RBI single to left.

The Cards tallied a solo run in the second before busting things open in the third, scoring four more times to give starting pitcher Collin Hoffmann a healthy dose of run support. Brett opened the frame with a double to right-center before consecutive singles from Chase Collins and Snyder. Ben Beachy came up with the huge knock in the sequence, roping a 3-RBI double with the bases loaded to give Otterbein a 10-1 lead.

Marietta refused to go quietly and slowly worked its way back into the contest, tallying one run in the fifth and then plating five more in the sixth inning during a stretch that saw a pair of Otterbein throwing errors. The extra momentum led to four Pioneer hits in the sixth, getting the hosts to within 10-7.

The Cars turned to long reliever Andy Caddas in the sixth, and the sophomore right-hander went the final 3.2 innings while allowing just one late run in the ninth. He notched his first-career save as a result.

Hoffmann, a first team All-OAC and third team All-Region closer, was asked to start for the second time in six days and rose to the occasion again over 86 pitches. He allowed four earned runs while working through various situations, registering four strikeouts and not walking anyone.

Five Cardinals contributed multi-hit games, led by a 3 for 5 effort from right fielder Chase Collins in the middle of the lineup and a four-RBI effort from Beachy at the top.

Game Two (8-1 Win):

The rematch initially began as a low-scoring slugfest with both teams posting an early run. Otterbein grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third on a Brett single through the left side, but Marietta responded in the bottom half with a sac-fly from Damian Yenzi.

Sophomore first baseman Luke Barber would be the difference-maker offensively in the middle innings, putting the Cards ahead for good by mashing a two-run homer across the left-field fence in the fifth. He installed a bit of déjà vu two frames later, launching another pitch to almost the same spot for another two-run blast and breaking the game open at 7-1.

The momentum would be more than enough for senior right-hander Johnny Putnam, who cruised to a complete-game victory on the bump by striking out nine batters and walking none.
It was Putnam's third memorable outing in as many years against Marietta, as he helped clinch the regular-season title in 2018 with a seven-inning gem and then also chucked 9.1 innings back in 2017 at Don Schaly Stadium.

Barber, Sam Edgell and Dmitri Collaros all had two-hit performances while Beachy posted three total hits on the day. He needs just three more to reach Wes Meadows (2010-13) and his all-time program record of 212.


"We played a little inconsistent there for a few weeks, but we have a good team. It forces you to respond when you're put into the fire or have your backs against the wall. That's what these guys did today and I'm just really proud." – George Powell on playing back into the OAC Tournament

"I am almost at a loss for words right now, it must be something about Marietta because I've thrown really well against them. I just pitched and let the defense play behind me. I didn't want to give up free bases and just focused on getting the first guy out each inning. It went well tonight." – Johnny Putnam on his complete-game effort

"I think about all the relationships and how important this program is to a lot of people. The milestones are good to reflect on someday, but it's about the players. I don't throw a pitch or hit a ball. I'm grateful for all the amazing players I've had the opportunity to coach and for the sacrifices of so many assistant coaches." – George Powell on reaching 500 career wins

"We were just trying to win one game twice. It was about competing, battling and working as hard as we could with every pitch. We left it all out there and let the results take care of themselves." – Luke Barber


The Cardinals have added a home doubleheader to close the regular season on Monday afternoon against Penn State-Behrend, scheduled for two seven-inning games at Fishbaugh Field. Both programs will recognize their senior classes, with Behrend going pregame and Otterbein celebrating its group at the conclusion of game two.

Following that, Otterbein will be the fourth and final seed in the upcoming OAC Tournament, being played this spring on the campus of Baldwin Wallace (May 9-11) at Fishers Field in Berea, Ohio. The Yellow Jackets shared the regular-season title with Heidelberg but will serve as host after emerging through a tie-breaker scenario as well.

Otterbein will take on top-seeded BW come Thursday afternoon while Heidelberg opens against No. 3 seed Ohio Northern. Full details and preview will come soon.