By Sports Information Intern Ross Thompson
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Dominican's baseball team looks to continue its hot streak with three games against Lake Erie, starting with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday and a single-game at noon on Sunday.
The Panthers split a series with Kentucky Wesleyan the past weekend but are still winners in 15 of their last 17 games. ODU moved back one spot in this week's NCBWA poll to No. 16, garnering 174 points, and remained at No. 2 in the Midwest Region rankings.
ODU goes into the weekend led by arguably the two hottest hitters in the G-MAC. Senior Justin Childers (Pickerington, Ohio) and junior Colin Kaucher (Toledo, Ohio) rank at the top of six of the nine major hitting categories in the conference. Childers, who is hitting .425, leads the league in slugging (.816), on-base (.568), triples (four) and runs (44), while Kaucher is tops in batting average (.443) and RBIs (41).
The middle of the lineup is not far behind with sophomore Joey Machuga (Canfield, Ohio) and junior Noah Bland (Oberlin, Ohio) ranking fifth and sixth, respectively, in the conference with .402 and .395 averages.
The Panthers have the second-highest scoring offense in Division II, averaging 9.7 runs per game, while ranking third in batting average (.353) and on-base percentage (.440). ODU also sits 10th in slugging (.520).
Eight of ODU's nine starters are hitting .328 or above and recording at least a .404 OBP as well.
The pitching staff has been having themselves a great year and looks to continue that trend. The bullpen continues to be solid, headlined by junior Brad Wilson (Alexandria, Ohio). He leads the league in saves with six and has not allowed a run in his last nine outings, having given up only one hit and one walk in that stretch.
Senior Dustin Cowart (Hoover, Ala.) is 3-0 on the season and has yet to allow a run in his 12.1 innings, holding opponents to a .174 batting average against. Freshman Tim Zeller (Mount Vernon, Ohio) has been making himself a mainstay in the Panther bullpen as well, yielding just eight hits and striking out 21 in 16.1 innings with a 1.10 ERA.
Junior Joe Filosa (Fort Wayne, Ind.) was terrific on Saturday against Kentucky Wesleyan, allowing three hits and one unearned run in 4.0 innings of work, and has now struck out 35 in 35.2 innings this year.
Junior Mitchell Bault (Maineville, Ohio) sits second in the league with 51 strikeouts and has logged 43.0 innings this spring, which is sixth in the G-MAC.
The defense continues to shine as ODU remains first in the nation in double plays per game (1.32). ODU's .973 fielding percentage is 13th in the country as well.
Lake Erie will enter the weekend series at 11-11-1 after dropping two against Kentucky Wesleyan last weekend. The Storm is 9-3 in the G-MAC, which is tied for fourth in the North Division.
Contact: Scott Miles