A couple of runs in the top of the ninth inning was the difference Wednesday.
Benedictine College played spoiler in a close game, topping the Ottawa University baseball team 6-4 at OU’s Alumni Park in the first contest of what will be a seven-game homestand for the Braves. It marked Ottawa’s seventh straight loss, two of which have come by two runs or less.
The Braves’ bats erupted in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, the team strung together three runs on four hits, including an RBI single by Cole Boardman, senior designated hitter, that scored Hecmart Nieves, senior outfielder, and a two-RBI triple by Dalton Rankin, freshman third baseman, in the next at-bat. Rankin’s knock scored both Boardman and Tyler Quintana, junior first baseman, to give OU an early 3-0 lead.
The Ravens immediately answered by scoring three runs in the top of the second. Ottawa’s defense commited three errors in the inning, and Benedictine’s Andrew Richards tied the game with a two-out solo homerun to left field.
Niether team scored again until the top of the fifth with Benedictine’s Matthew Jarecki drove in Richards to make it 4-3 Ravens.
Ottawa didn’t answer until the bottom of the eighth. Boardman smacked a two-out RBI double to score Chris Morrison, junior shortstop, to tie the score again.
Benedictine got the last laugh when Austin Watamaniuk hit a one-out RBI triple in the top of the ninth to put the Ravens back on top. Watamaniuk scored on the next at-bat when Richards hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-4.
Ottawa did come close to a rally by loading the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Willies Estrada, junior infielder, and Evan Brull, sophomore infielder, hit back-to-back one-out singles, and Trevor McClanahan, junior outfielder, reached on a walk. Morrison grounded into a game-ending double play in the ensuing at-bat.
Boardman finished 2-3 at the plate with two RBIs, a run scored and a walk. Logan Wheelan tossed 4 2/3 innings for the Braves, allowing one earned run on four hits. He walked three and struck out two.
Ottawa (3-15) has two consecutive three-game conference series at home. The first is set to begin noon Saturday against McPherson College at Alumni Park. Game 2 of the doubleheader will follow after the first game is completed. The third game is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.