Bellaire duo leads BW to Division III tourney

• Badia named co-MVP?of OAC Tournament

BEREA, Oh. — As Baldwin Wallace University prepares for its second NCAA Division III baseball tournament appearance in four seasons, so does a pair of former Bellaire High school standouts.

Spencer Badia and Nick Patrone were classmates for the Big Reds and all-state performers on the baseball diamond, as well as the football field. Now, the dynamic duo are senior members of the Yellow Jackets (31-12) squad that met Swarthmore (Pa.) College (33-9) today at 10 in the opening game of the double-elimination Auburn, N.Y. Regional, which is being hosted by State University of New York at Cortland’s Falcon Park.

Baldwin Wallace is the fourth seed in the eight-team event. The Garnet are the fifth seeds.

The Yellow Jackets won their first Ohio Athletic Conference championship in 33 years last weekend with a 15-6 victory over Otterbein University. They were seeded third.

“It’s been a crazy season,” Badia said via telephone earlier in the week. “You always talk about playing your best at the end of the season, and that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been putting up a lot of runs. We’ve been getting good starts from our pitchers, and we’ve been playing good defense.

“We’re pretty hot right now, so we want to keep that momentum going.”

Badia, BW’s second baseman, is one of the team’s hottest hitters. He slapped a pair of singles and a double that produced two runs. He scored three times and also drew a walk.

Badia and teammate Alex Marcum were named co-MVPs for their performances.

“Obviously, that was a special moment for me, but lifting that trophy with the guys was the best,” he admitted. “Baldwin Wallace hadn’t won an OAC championship since 1985. The individual award is cool, but the team championship is amazing.”

For the season, Badia is hitting .356 with in 34 games, 31 of them being starts. He missed a little time early on and 10 games in the middle of the season.

“I had a little accident with a log splitter and nearly cut a finger off. I DH’d for awhile but I couldn’t play in the field,” he said. “Then I tore my PCL in my knee. I rehabbed it and I wear a brace. It doesn’t bother me.”

Badia has driven in 37 runs on 47 hits, four of which have been home runs. He has doubled seven times and scored 27 runs. He has drawn 16 base-on-balls, been hit-by-pitches five times and has stolen three bases in four tries. In his 132 at-bats, he struck out 19 times.

“I’ve been pretty consistent all year,” he noted. “When our offense gets rolling like it has, there’s no pressure on anyone. Everyone just steps up and does there job.”

The Yellow Jackets advanced to the same regional as freshmen. They didn’t fare too well, but Badia said that is to their advantage this time around.

“This senior class is pretty special. We’ve really picked up the slack this season,” he added. “We’ve kind of got a chip on our shoulders, but we all seem ready to go.”

Badia, a pre-physical therapy major who carries a 4.0 GPA, was also named to the Google Cloud Academic All-District 7 Team which qualified him for the Google Cloud Academic All-America Team ballot. The first- and second-team Academic All-Americans will be announced in June. He also received BW’s male Clyde Lamb Award, which is presented to student-athletes who exemplify great sportsmanlike conduct and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Patrone, a right-handed pitcher, has endured an injury-plagued season, but has done yeoman’s work of late.

“Nick’s been great,” Badia said. “He’s been my boy. He has been since Day 1. He’s been hurt a little, but the last two weeks he has pitched some big innings for us.”

For the season Patrone is 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA in 7.1 innings. He has made five appearances — all in relief — and has recorded one save, while fanning four, walking one and allowing three runs — all earned.

Swarthmore, which is enjoying its best season in school history, advanced by defeating Johns Hopkins, 4-3, in 11 innings to win the Centennial Conference championship. The Garnet has won 10 straight games entering the tournament. It is their first trip to the regional since 1985.

Other teams entered are host SUNY-Cortland (32-10), Westfield State (24-16-1), Southern Maine (27-13), Amherst (24-12), Salisbury (33-10) and St. Joseph’s (L.I.).

The Auburn Regional winner will move on to the D-III World Series at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis., from May 25-30.