Heatherly's Walk-Off RBI Single Helps Express Split Day 1 Of Sub-Regional
Parma, OH --- The Owens Express Baseball team experienced the highs and lows of playoff baseball on Friday during Day 1 of the 2012 NJCAA Sub-Regional at Mottl Field on the campus of Cuyahoga Community College.
The Express won Game 1 against highly touted Vincennes University, 3-2 but fell in Game 2 to Lakeland Community College, 4-3. That means if Owens is to advance, they will have to sweep two games on Saturday and win the Championship Game on Sunday.
Owens took on 35-19 Vincennes in the opener and got on the board in the 2nd inning as third baseman Logan Shullick singled through the right side and right fielder Clayton Ruch never stopped motoring, scoring all the way from first base.
The Express added another run in the 4th inning. First baseman Ryan Hotmer led off the inning with a double to the gap in right center. He would eventually come around to score on a single up the middle by catcher Travis Tackett.
OCC starter Chris Ward was cruising until the 6th inning. Ward had struck out seven, but allowed a leadoff walk to the Blazers' left fielder Drew Ransbottom. The next batter, catcher Steve Lowden unloaded on a fastball and deposited it over the left field fence, tying it at two. Ward would leave after the 6th inning with eight strike outs.
Reliever Dane Davis came on in the seventh and faced just one batter over the limit to get the Express to the bottom of the inning. With one out, center fielder Justin Elder walked. He would steal second and advance to third on a groundout by second baseman Ryan Horvath. That set up designated hitter Daniel Heatherly. Heatherly would come through with a clutch two-out single right back through the box against reliever Bryan Nacke for the win.
Tackett, Heatherly and Hotmer each had a pair of hits in the win.
Owens would face Lakeland in their second game of the Sub-Regional.
Things looked good early for the Express. Elder reached on a walk and would score as the next batter, Horvath, singled to right field. Lakeland right fielder Matt Wheeler let Horvath's single get past him allowing Elder to scamper home. Horvath would also score as Heatherly chased him home with a single up the middle.
Unfortunately, Owens couldn't make that early 2-0 lead hold up. In the bottom of the first, Wheeler reached on an error and scored on a triple by third baseman Andrew Mitroff. Mittroff would make it home on a passed ball, tying it at two.
Both starters, Lakeland's John Gora and Owens' Sean Koerber, settled in after that rough first inning. The Lakers took the lead in the second on and RBI single by second baseman Xavier Bonilla, but Koerber only allowed one base runner in the next 10 batters he faced.
Owens manufactured a run in the fourth to tie it and it involved the speed of Clayton Ruch again. Ruch walked, advanced to second of a fielder's choice and scored from second on a wild pitch.
Koerber was lifted after five innings and Dane Davis returned for his second appearance of the day, unfortunately to a different result. Laker left fielder Todd Queener led off the inning with a double just inside the bag at third. He was sacrificed to third and scored on a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Jordan Pratt.
Owens got the tying run to second base in the top of the seventh, but that's as far as it got, falling 4-3.
The Express will now play host Cuyahoga Community College at 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning. If Owens wins, they get a rematch with Lakeland at 1:30 p.m. It the Express wins the 1:30 p.m. game with Lakeland, they will face the Lakers one more time in the Sub-Regional Final on Sunday. If Owens loses any game on Saturday, their season comes to an end.