By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Game 1: Cuyahoga 5 Owens 3
Despite a nice offensive performance from Nate Manis, the Express dropped a 5-3 decision to Cuyahoga in the first game.
Express starter Chris Ward gave up two runs in the first inning, but struck out the final batter to strand the bases loaded.
Manis then singled on a bunt to lead off the bottom half. After stealing second, he scored on an RBI single from Myles Debol to pull the Express within one.
In the third, with Cuyahoga up 3-1, Manis doubled with two outs and scored on an single from Ryan Horvath to pull the Express back within one.
Cuyahoga, however, would score single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 5-2 lead.
In the seventh, the Express almost rallied back. Heatherly doubled to lead off the inning before Nick Collins tripled him home to make it 5-3. However, Michael Louis lined out to third before Travis Tackett struck out and Logan Shullick flew out to left to end the threat.
Ward (1-2) took the loss, while Jordan Musser got the complete game win for Cuyahoga. Ward's final line included six innings, nine hits, five runs (four earned), three walks and nine strikeouts.
Dane Davis pitched the seventh for the Express and allowed one hit while striking out one.
Manis finished 2-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base.
Game 2: Owens 9 Cuyahoga 8
Trailing 6-1 entering the bottom half of the fourth inning, the Express scored eight runs over the next three innings to steal a victory as Jesse Castilleja picked up the win in relief.
After Express starter Garrett Scott gave up a run in the top half of the first, Ryan Horvath's two out bunt single down the third base line scored Manis, who led off the inning with a hit by pitch.
Cuyahoga then scored two in the second, one in the third and two in the fourth to take their 6-1 lead.
Horvath led off with the Express half of the fourth with a double. He would score one batter later on an single by Heatherly, who would later score on an errant pick off throw from Cuyahoga's pitcher.
Down 6-3 entering the fifth, the Express pulled to within one in the fifth. Debol doubled to lead off the inning. Two outs later, still on second, Debol scored on another RBI single from Heatherly. After Heatherly stole second, Collins singled him home.
Castilleja, who relieved Scott with one out in the fifth, allowed one run in the sixth to make it 7-5.
Then, in the bottom half, a four run rally completed the comeback for the Express. With the first five batters reaching, the rally was started with a walk from James Moore Jr., who then scored on a double from Manis to pull the Express within one.
Following back-to-back walks by Louis and Debol, a balk moved runners to second and third. Ryan Hotmer then hit a two-run double to deep right center that gave the Express an 8-7 lead. An errant throw on a sacrifice bunt would later score Hotmer to make it 9-7.
Ruch then relieved Castilleja to begin the seventh. With two outs, Ruch made a bad throw to first on a bunt, and the runner advanced to third. Following an RBI single that brought Cuyahoga within one, Ruch induced a 4-3 groundout to end the game.
Scott's final line included 4.1 innings, eight hits, six runs, four walks and one strikeout. Castilleja, who moved to 1-1 with the win, allowed two hits, one run and zero walks with one strikeout in 1.2 innings.
Mark Rauschenbach picked up the loss in relief for Cuyahoga.
Heatherly finished 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBIs and a stolen base, while Horvath was 2-for-3 with a run, an RBI and a stolen base. Hotmer added a 1-for-3, one run and two RBI performance, while Debol scored two runs.
The Express (12-19, 6-4 OCCAC) will take on Cuyahoga (12-14, 3-6 OCCAC) on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.