ASHLAND, Ohio – The AU baseball team salvaged a doubleheader split at Hillsdale on Sunday (May 6) afternoon with a 3-2 win in the nightcap. The Chargers topped the Eagles, 3-2, in Game 1.
The Game 2 win snapped AU's seven-game losing streak in the second games of doubleheaders, dating back to April 15 when the Eagles finished a four-game sweep over Saginaw Valley State.
The Eagles dropped three of four games to Hillsdale on the weekend, but still clinched a spot in next week's GLIAC Tournament in Chillicothe, Ohio. Ashland, the tournament's sixth seed, will play top-seeded Grand Valley State on Wednesday (May 9) morning at 10 a.m.
All four games in the series were decided by one run. The Eagles struggled in the clutch offensively, batting just .135 (5-for-37) with runners in scoring position for the weekend.
The Eagles (27-23, 19-17 GLIAC) opened the scoring in Game 2 on Saturday with a run in the first inning. Freshman Giancarlo Saia (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) reached on an error and eventually scored on a single by sophomore Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio).
Hillsdale responded in the bottom of the inning with a run off AU starter Aaron Hilt (Richmond, Ohio/Edison).
In the third inning, the Eagles rallied with two outs. Kaido singled and sophomore Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) doubled to put two runners on. Freshman Kyle Vozar (Hinckley, Ohio/Medina Highland) followed with a two-run single through the hole on the right side to give AU a 3-1 lead.
The Chargers (14-35, 12-24 GLIAC) cut the lead in half in the fourth inning by scoring an unearned run off Hilt.
In the sixth inning, the Chargers got a leadoff double, but could not score off Hilt. Hillsdale put two runners on with one out in the seventh but Hilt got a 5-3 double play to end the game and give the Eagles their first win of the series.
Hilt (7-7) earned the win for the Eagles, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks in a complete game effort. He struck out four in the seven innings. Michael Bauer (0-2) took the loss for the Chargers. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in 2.2 innings.
Kaido and Vozar combined for all three RBI in the game for Ashland and each had two hits. Pat O'Hearn and Nick Nunez had two hits apiece for the Chargers.
In Game 1, Ashland starter Shayne Herold (LeRoy, N.Y./Genesee CC) was solid, but the offense struggled to support his performance.
The Chargers got on the board with a run in the fourth inning on two singles and a walk. Hillsdale scratched out another run in the fifth on a double and a sacrifice fly.
Hillsdale led, 2-0, going into the seventh inning when the AU offense came to life. The Eagles loaded the bases with one out and Saia delivered an RBI fielder's choice. Kaido followed with an RBI infield single to tie the game at 2-2, but the Eagles could not score the go-ahead run.
In the eighth inning, Herold doubled with two outs, but the Eagles, again, could not take the lead off Hillsdale reliever Kris Morris.
In the bottom of the inning, O'Hearn drew a leadoff walk. Chris Stephens then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw by freshman second baseman Stephen James (Westlake, Ohio) sailed wide and allowed O'Hearn to score from first base for the game-winner.
Herold (1-4) took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits. He walked two and struck out five. Morris (1-4) picked up the win with 1.2 scoreless innings of relief. Hillsdale starter Dan Rhodes allowed two runs on five hits in six innings of work.
Junior John Broll (Mississauga, Ont./Genesee CC) and freshman Adam Urbania (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) had two hits each. Senior Zach Thompson (Marshalltown, Iowa/Cleveland State) reached base twice with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Scott Rhodes paced the HC offense with two hits and Stephens had a pair of RBI.
The Eagles will travel to Chillicothe, Ohio, for the GLIAC Tournament opener on Wednesday (May 9) morning. AU will play top-seeded Grand Valley State, which took three of four games from the Eagles earlier this season in Allendale, Mich.