SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Wittenberg senior Zach Finke (Maineville, Ohio/St. Xavier) has pitched a lot of games in his baseball career. Few have been as memorable as Sunday's 6-0 victory over Ohio Wesleyan.
Taking the mound in a must-win situation for the Tigers, Finke was nothing short of masterful. He allowed just three baserunners – one hit batsman and two walks – en route to what is believed to be just the fifth no-hitter in Wittenberg baseball history, and the first in 15 years.
Current research indicates similar performances by former Tiger All-Americans Jim Osborne '67 and Kris Cooper '96, as well as Randy Pore '99 and Brian Plasters '00. Pore and Plasters threw their no-hitters within 10 games of one another during the 1998 season.
"It feels pretty great. It's my first one ever," said Finke, who has a career record of 13-4 at Wittenberg.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they were unable to keep the momentum going in the second game of the doubleheader – and finale of the four-game weekend set – as Ohio Wesleyan rallied for a 5-3 victory to split the twinbill and even the series at two wins apiece. Wittenberg heads into a make-or-break week of games that includes a four-game series next weekend against DePauw with records of 17-12 overall and 5-7 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) West Division.
Ohio Wesleyan is now 14-13 overall and 5-7 in the NCAC West, with a series against Wabash, which also has a 5-7 record in the division, still ahead. Denison leads the NCAC West with a record of 10-6, followed by DePauw at 7-5. The top two teams in the division earn spots in the four-team NCAC Tournament May 10-12.
The focus is always on the team's performance, but the story of the day remains Finke's masterpiece, the 23rd no-hitter in NCAA Division III during the 2013 season. He improved to 5-1 on the season and lowered his earned run average to a miniscule 1.77 while throwing just 74 pitches and striking out four batters. No Battling Bishop baserunners advanced beyond second base in the game.
"I felt good. I had to take off last week due to some elbow trouble, so I worked hard all week and the arm felt really good," Finke said. "The defense was awesome behind me. I just made sure to give them high-fives between every inning."
The Tigers backed Finke with two runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, powered by a 3-for-3 performance from junior David Moore (Tipp City, Ohio/Tippecanoe). He was one of five players to drive in a run for Wittenberg in the game, including junior Alex Lochard (Sidney, Ohio/Sidney), who finished 2-for-2 with a walk.
In the nightcap, freshman Jordan Hitt (South Charleston, Ohio/Southeastern) did excellent work through the first six innings of the nine-inning contest. He allowed six hits and three walks, but Ohio Wesleyan broke through for just one run against him.
Four relievers followed Hitt to the mound, but Ohio Wesleyan hung two runs each on senior Jonathan Long (Marysville, Ohio/Marysville) and freshman Seth Parrish (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central) to complete the rally from an early 3-0 deficit. Freshman Luke Black (St. Paris, Ohio/Graham) and junior Edison Henry (San Diego, Calif./St. Augustine) both completed scoreless innings of relief.
Offensively, senior Grant Goodwin (Hilliard, Ohio/Davidson) continued his late-season resurgence at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI, while junior Brandon Jordan (Ithaca, NY/Ithaca) drove in a pair of fourth-inning single.
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