ONU Tigers tear up Lincoln Christian in season-opening series
It was good news, bad news for the opening of Olivet Nazarene University’s (ONU) baseball season.
The Tigers swept a three-game series against Lincoln Christian University in dominating fashion but lost starting pitcher Jonathan Hentschel for the near term.
In their first game, the runs started coming in the second inning and didn't let up until ONU earned a 21-3 win. Hentschel pitched four innings.
“I would say the most impressive performance came from Jonathan Henschel, our starting pitcher,” head coach Todd Reid told the Kankakee Times. “He did not have his best stuff, and in the last couple of days, we confirmed that he has an elbow issue that he is going to get some treatment on. But as a senior, he put all that aside and said, 'Hey, I want the ball, and I want to get out there and compete for you.’”
Reid said Hentschel will miss the rest of the fall season due to the elbow injury but should be able to return when the spring season starts.
In the second game of the series, the Tigers continued to rack up runs in a 12-4 win. Graham Burke got the start for the Tigers and gave up two runs on three hits.
ONU closed out the series with another dominating win, 9-1. Mason Sherrill got the win for ONU, pitching four scoreless innings. The Tigers scored at least one run in every inning except the sixth and racked up 12 hits.
“Across the board, we batted very well,” Reid said. “It seemed like every rookie or first-year guy who had an opportunity really seized it.”
Overall, Reid said he was pleased with the way the Tigers performed but sees some areas to improve on.
“I was really pleased with how aggressive we were on the bases, but we did get away with some things,” he said. “Lincoln Christian is a young team, and we are going to be playing some really experienced teams and need to improve on some stuff. We got away with some things in that series, and we need to clean those up before we take on the more experienced teams.”
Reid said one of the most important aspects of the opening series was giving young players a chance to experience college-level baseball.
“Not only did they get experience, but they also succeeded, and that’s a good way to start the year,” Reid said. “It lets them feel like they can contribute and compete at the college level. That’s really good motivation for them.”
Next up for ONU is a three-game series against Mount Vernon Nazarene University in early October. After that, the team won’t take the field again until February against Bethel University.