By Ross Thompson, Sports Information Intern
COLUMBUS, Ohio – After sweeping four home games on Sunday and Monday, the red-hot Ohio Dominican baseball team will remain in Panther Valley for a Saturday doubleheader with Davis & Elkins and a Sunday twinbill with Alderson Broaddus, with first pitch at 1 p.m. both days.
The Panthers, ranked No. 18 in the latest NCBWA poll, are 15-4 (4-0 G-MAC) after sweeping doubleheaders with Ohio Valley and Cedarville to start conference play. Winners of seven straight and 10 of their past 11, five of their wins in this streak have come by at least 10 runs.
ODU is bolstered by a lineup that is hitting .340 with a .437 OBP and a pitching staff that boasts a 3.45 ERA with a total of 165 punchouts in 19 games, resulting in almost nine a game.
Through games played as of Sunday, March 18, ODU ranks seventh in Division II in scoring and triples per game and eighth in both batting average and on-base percentage. The Panthers also top the country in double plays turned per game at 1.47.
Over the last six games, senior first baseman Justin Childers (Pickerington, Ohio) has swung a hot bat, holding a .583 average and slugging 1.250. He has hit three home runs, three doubles and two triples in that stretch.
Sophomore third baseman Joey Machuga (Canfield, Ohio) leads the team in average for the season with .438 and also leads the team in RBIs with 30. Senior outfielder Cody Paterniti (Chardon, Ohio) sports a .400 average, while a pair of juniors in Colin Kaucher (Toledo, Ohio) and Noah Bland (Oberlin, Ohio) are at .383 and .381 respectively on the year.
Machuga, Paterniti and Bland have three of the top five batting averages in the G-MAC, as of March 20. Machuga leads the conference in RBIs while Childers leads in OBP, runs and triples.
The pitching staff has been lights out, with the starting rotation led by Mitchell Bault (Maineville, Ohio). Bault has a season ERA of only 3.06 while throwing 32.1 innings.
Junior Joey Filosa (Fort Wayne, Ind.) has also been good from the bump with 22 strikeouts and a 3.71 ERA, and senior Matt Kittelberger (Massillon, Ohio) has three wins as well.
The bullpen has been rock solid all year, paced by junior closer Brad Wilson (Alexandria, Ohio). Wilson has only thrown 12.1 innings, but has 21 strikeouts and a 0.73 ERA. Freshman Tim Zeller (Mount Vernon, Ohio) has struck out 14 in his 10.2 innings and has a 1.69 ERA, and senior Dustin Cowart (Hoover, Ala.) has yet to allow an earned run in 10.1 innings.
Bault leads the conference in punch-outs and innings pitched while Wilson leads in appearances and is second in saves.
Davis & Elkins will enter the weekend sitting at 4-17 (0-4 G-MAC) while Alderson Broaddus will enter at 3-12 (1-3 G-MAC).