By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Myrtle Beach, SC---The Express started their season on a winning note with a 7-6 extra inning victory over NJCAA Division I Olney Central College.
"I thought the team battled well, especially with the few extra innings we played," said Owens head coach Del Young, who managed his first game for the Express.
Olney Central (13-4) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning before Owens busted out with four runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Olney Central answered right back with four of their own in the bottom of the inning to put the Express in a 5-4 deficit. It could have been worse had it not been for a diving, run-saving catch by Schmenk in left center with one out.
Michael Louis (Normandy/Parma, Ohio), the No.8 hitter for the Express, then hit the season's first home run to left center in the top of the 6th to tie it and force extra innings.
After the Express scored a run in the top of the eighth on a pinch-hit RBI single through the left side by Andrew Poland (Central Catholic/Toledo, Ohio), an unconventional double play prevented Olney Central from possibly winning the game.
Olney Central had runners on second and third with one out when a hard hit ground ball was snagged at second base by Sickler, who threw to Travis Tackett (Switzerland County/Vevay, Ind.) at first base for the second out. The runner from third scored to tie the game, but the runner that was on second broke late for third, and Tackett threw to Matt Hayes (North/Pickerington, Ohio) at third base to complete the 4-3-5 double play and set up Sickler's game-winning hit the next half inning.
Sickler led the Express at the plate, going 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run.
Daniel Heatherly (Trenton/Trenton, Mich.) got the win (1-0) for the Express as he pitched the final two innings while allowing one hit, one walk and one earned run. Jordan Grinestaff took the loss for Olney Central.
Schmenk went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and one run, James Moore (Southfield Lathrup/Farmington Hills, Mich.) went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and one run, and Louis went 1-for-4 with his home run.
Zak Esposito (Sandusky/Sandusky, Ohio) started for the Express and went 3 2/3 innings. He allowed four earned runs, four hits, three walks, and he struck out one. Jeff Davis (St. Francis/Toledo, Ohio) then came in with 1 1/3 innings of work. He allowed no runs, one hit and struck out one. Kelley Wagner (Brownstown/Brownstown, Ind.) then went two innings while allowing no runs, two hits, striking out two and walking none.