Yellow Jackets Lose Early Lead, Fall to Panthers

On Wednesday afternoon, sophomore third baseman Drew Johnson continued his hot streak, but the Cedarville men’s baseball team lost to the Ohio Dominican Panthers 11-6.

The Yellow Jackets roughed up Ohio Dominican pitcher Matt Kittelberger in the first inning, scoring two runs. Cedarville left-fielder David Lenhardt, an offensive threat who did serious damage at the plate last season, sent home shortstop Sam Summerlin with a single to center field. Johnson advanced to third base and scored a few pitches later to give the Jackets a 2-0 lead.

Kittelberger settled down, blanking the Jackets for the next three innings. Meanwhile, Kittelberger gained run support as Ohio Dominican scored three runs in the third. A combination of small-ball and a few throwing errors allowed the Panthers to take the lead. In the fifth inning, the Panthers added three more runs, making the lead 6-2. Right fielder Colman Fitzgerald, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, sent home a runner and scored himself.

Down 8-3 in the seventh inning, it was the Jackets’ turn to rally. Johnson, who has been hitting the cover off the ball, roped the ball over the right fielder’s head for a triple. Summerlin scored his second run of the day off Johnson’s triple with center-fielder Nathan Bancroft close behind. Johnson went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and three RBIs, and he has had 18 hits in his past 12 games. Lenhardt stepped to the plate next, crushing a double this time to left field. Johnson scored, and Ohio Dominican got out of the inning with an 8-6 lead.

The Jacket’s couldn’t muster any runs in the eighth or ninth innings. In the top of the ninth, Ohio Dominican’s Marcus Schluessler hit his first home run of the year, a three-run shot off Yellow Jackets reliever Tyler Hurt.

“The season is going fine,” coach Mike Manes said after the loss. “We are 9-9 and have played one of the hardest schedules around. We will play anyone who will tee off with us, and we know how good these guys (Ohio Dominican) were coming into today.”

The Panthers had just swept Grand Valley State, and Manes said the only way to prepare for the postseason was to play good teams like this. He was positive about his squad, though, and said he was pleased with the way the season has gone despite the game’s outcome.

“Some of our young guys have been stepping up.” he said. “Veteran guys like David Lenhardt and Cleland continue to play really well and lead the team, and they’ll just continue to do that.”

Cedarville sits at 9-9 on the season. The games scheduled for this weekend have been canceled because of impending bad weather. The Yellow Jackets will play their rescheduled games March 30 and 31 starting at 1 p.m. and noon, respectively. Both dates are doubleheaders against conference foe Kentucky Wesleyan.

Dave Guidone is a junior social studies education major and sports reporter for Cedars. His hobbies include eating, snacking, shooting hoops and laughing. Hebrews 13:8.

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