WESTERVILLE, Ohio – As the offense continued to roll, the third-seeded Baldwin Wallace University baseball team knocked off top-seeded Otterbein University 15-6 to win the 2018 Ohio Athletic Conference Championship at the Cardinals' home facility of Fishbaugh Field.
With the win, BW (31-12 overall) ties the single-season school record with 31 wins, which was set back in 2015. The red-hot offense carried the Yellow Jackets to their first OAC Tournament crown since 1985, putting up 56 total runs on 59 hits.
In order to advance to the championship, BW swept its first two games over second-seeded Marietta College and Otterbein (30-14) by finals of 19-5 and 22-8. After Friday morning's loss, the Cardinals had fight its way through the consolation bracket, beating Marietta 5-3 in an elimination game Friday evening.
A two-out rally in the top of the first inning plated four runs for the Yellow Jackets, highlighted by extra-base hits from senior All-OAC second baseman Spencer Badia (Bellaire), sophomore first baseman Jacob Bonner (Akron/Archbishop Hoban) and junior designated hitter Philip Wells (Buffalo, N.Y./St. Joseph's Collegiate). Another run scored in the second inning as sophomore outfielder Dudley Taw (Sheffield Lake/Brookside) singled to right center. Otterbein got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second with a bloop single to make the score 5-1 but BW would get the run right back in the third when Badia scored on a wild pitch. The two teams began trading runs at that point until the Yellow Jackets held an 11-6 lead heading into the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh with the bases loaded, the OAC's home run leader in sophomore left fielder Dudley Taw (Sheffield Lake/Brookside) crushed a grand slam to right field to give BW a 15-6 lead, also tying the single-season home run record with the Yellow Jackets' 42nd homer of the year.
Badia led the offensive charge with three hits while senior center fielder Chase Knodle (Poland/Seminary), Taw, senior All-OAC right fielder Alex Marcum (Granville), Bonner and Wells each had two hits apiece. With his two runs batted in, Marcum set the new single-season RBI record, breaking the previous mark of 58. For the second game in a row, Taw was the team's RBI leader with five runs batted in.
Getting the start in the championship game was senior right-hander Brandon Wysong (Bradford). The senior went four innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks with a career-high tying four strikeouts. Junior lefty Jack Raines (Akron/Archbishop Hoban) was untouchable in relief, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings and only giving up three hits and one walk to earn the win while sophomore left-handed pitcher Michael Hubert (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) kept the Cardinals from any late inning heroics with a scoreless ninth inning.
For their performances over the past three days, Knodle, Taw, Badia, Marcum and senior American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings All-Mideast Region and All-OAC pitcher Evan Lovick (Mentor) have been named to the 2018 OAC All-Tournament Team. Badia and Marcum were named Co-Most Valuable Players of the tournament along with their All-Tournament Team honors.
The Yellow Jackets also receive the OAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament, marking the team's seventh appearance overall at the national level and the third under eighth-year head coach Brian Harrison. BW has not been to an NCAA Tournament since the 2015 season when the Yellow Jackets received an at-large bid.
The NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament field will be announced on Sunday, May 13, at 11:59 p.m. with play slated to begin May 18 at the eight different regional sites.