By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio---The Owens Community College baseball team took three of four games this weekend from Lakeland Community College to set up a showdown with No. 11 Cuyahoga Community College for the conference championship next weekend.
Next weekend's four game series at home vs Cuyahoga will also mark the final home games in Owens baseball history. Earlier in the week, the team is scheduled to host Adrian College at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Cleary University at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Owens is now 26-11 overall and 9-3 in Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) play. They must win all four games against Cuyahoga to claim the conference title, which would be their first since 2009.
Game 1: Lakeland d. Owens 5-2
Lakeland scored two runs in the third inning, led 3-1 through four and tacked on a couple insurance runs in the seventh to pick up a 5-2 win over Owens in Friday's first game.
Offensively, Casey Gose (Genoa/Genoa, Ohio) led Owens with a 3-for-4 performance, including one run. Jake Wichlacz (Eisenhower/Macomb, Mich.) and Eric Hotchkiss (Bedford/Lambertville, Mich.) each added two hits, while Ty Suntken (Wauseon/Wauseon, Ohio) and Stephen Parker (Eisenhower/Shelby Township, Mich.) knocked in the game's two runs with one sacrifice fly apiece.
Robbie Bekier (Cardinal Stritch/Toledo, Ohio) went the first six plus innings on the mound for Owens. He allowed nine hits, four runs and two walks, while adding six strikeouts. He fell to 4-2 on the season with the loss.
Billy Todorowski (Springfield/Holland, Ohio) relieved Bekier after a leadoff double in the seventh and finished the inning. He allowed two hits, one run and zero walks in one inning.
Game 2: Owens d. Lakeland 6-4
Owens bounced back in the second game on Friday by scoring a pair of runs in each of the first three innings to pull out a 6-4 win.
Once again, Gose went 3-for-4 in the game, while Parker went 2-for-3 with a run and three RBI. Wichlacz (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Suntken (2-for-3, R, RBI) each also had two hits for the Owens offense, which finished 11-for-30 as a team.
After Lakeland scored twice in the top of the first, Wichlacz roped a two-run single in the home half to tie the game. On the play, Suntken and Jake Schmeltz (Eastwood/Perrysburg, Ohio) scored.
In the second, Parker's RBI single and Suntken's RBI groundout gave Owens a 4-2 lead. Then, the lead increased by two, once again, in the third on a two-run double from Parker.
Finch improved to 6-0 on the season with the win. He allowed six hits, four runs and four walks while striking out eight over 5.1 innings. Kraynak allowed two hits and two walks with one strikeout in one inning of work.
Damian Clarke (Waterdown District/Carlisle, Ontario, Canada), picked up his second save of the season by retiring the game's final two batters after a pair of runners reached off Kraynak in the seventh.
Game 3: Owens d. Lakeland 8-5
Despite a late flurry of runs from Lakeland, Owens pulled out an 8-5 win in today's first game.
Owens scored first in the game when Parker belted a two-run homer to right in the third inning. In the fourth, the lead increased by one when Devin Burns (Springfield/Holland, Ohio) scored Suntken on a sacrifice fly.
After Lakeland got a run back in the top of the fifth, Owens exploded for five two-out runs in the home half. The first two runs came when Wichlacz knocked in a pair of runs following an intentional walk to Zach Souter (Huron/Huron, Ohio) to load the bases. Nick Wolfe (Genoa/Genoa, Ohio) added a bases loaded walk two batters later and a balk added the fourth run. Two batters after that, Parker joined Wolfe for the inning's second bases loaded walk.
Grant Peters (Eastwood/Pemberville, Ohio), who started on the mound for Owens, was replaced by Clarke in the next half inning when Lakeland produced three unearned runs. After Owens went 1-2-3 in the home half of the sixth, Clarke struck out the first two batters in the seventh. Lakeland responded with a hit batter and a pair of singles for another run, by Clarke got the final batter on a groundout to end the game.
Gose (2-for-4, R), Wichlacz (2-for-3, R, 2 RBI) and Parker (1-for-2, R, 3 RBI) led the Owens offense.
Peters improved to 5-1 this year with the win. In 5.2 innings, he allowed seven hits, four runs (one earned) and two walks. He struck out seven. In 1.1 innings, Clarke allowed three hits, one run and zero walks. He struck out two.
Game 4: Owens d. Lakeland 15-2
In the final game of the four bagger, Owens scored 15 runs on nine hits, including 11 in the fourth inning, to finish Lakeland in five innings and beat the imminent rainfall.
For the third time in four games, Lakeland struck first for the game's first run on a first inning passed ball.
In the home half, however, the first four batters for Owens crossed the plate. After Gose walked to leadoff, Schmeltz doubled him home with a deep drive up the gap in left center. Suntken followed with an RBI single and Wichlacz cleared the bases with a two-run home run to left in the next at bat.
Wichlacz has a team-high four home runs and 47 RBI this year.
A fielder's choice groundout in the fourth inning pulled Lakeland within two, but Owens broke the game open with 11 runs in the fourth in a wild inning.
Schmeltz knocked home the first run with an RBI single to center. Following that, Burns, Hotchkiss, Kyle Kozlaker (Clay/Oregon, Ohio), Parker, Gose and Schmeltz produced six straight bases loaded walks from two Lakeland pitchers. Suntken and Wichlacz capped the inning's scoring with a two-run single to right center and a two-run double to left, respectively.
Jake Wojciechowski (Genoa/Genoa, Ohio) allowed a single to lead off the fifth, but retired the next three batters to finish his complete game. In five innings, he allowed just three hits and three walks, along with two unearned runs, while striking out six. He improved to 2-1 on the season.
With his performance today, Wojciechowski lowered his season ERA to 1.59. He has 30 strikeouts in 22.2 innings pitched over five starts.
Wichlacz (3-for-3, 2 R, 4 RBI), Suntken (2-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI) and Schmeltz (2-for-2, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB) led the Owens offense. Gose (0-for-2, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB) and Parker (1-for-1, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB) also contributed.
The Owens pitching staff continued its fine season overall this weekend.
- Kraynak kept his 0.00 ERA over 15 innings this year. He has 16 strikeouts over that span along with two saves.
- Wojciechowski is striking out 11.91 batters per game and is second on the team in ERA at 1.59.
- Clarke, who is primarily a reliever like Kraynak, has a 1.85 ERA and 30 strikeouts over 34 innings.
- Finch leads the team with six wins on a spotless 6-0 record. He sports a 2.67 ERA with a team-high 50 strikeouts over 30.1 innings, which equates to 14.84 strikeouts per game.
- Finally, Peters is 5-1 with a 3.11 ERA. He has struck out 45 over 37.2 innings.
In conference play, Peters is 3-0 with 29 strikeouts over 19.2 innings and a 0.92 ERA. Wojciechowski is 2-1 with a 1.84 ERA and Clarke has a 2.70 ERA.
Offensively, Gose is now hitting 22-for-44 (.500) in conference play, followed by Schmeltz (.442), Wichlacz (.436) and Suntken (.432). Wichlacz has two home runs and 17 RBI in league play, while Schmeltz had 15 RBI and 15 runs.