A tough 2017 season has ended on a high note for Ashland University's baseball team.
On Wednesday (May 3) afternoon in the season finale, a makeup game against Ohio Dominican at Donges Field, the Eagles took an 11-7 decision from the Panthers to finish the campaign with a six-game winning streak.
Ashland ends the year at 20-29 overall and 12-20 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and having scored double-digit runs in each of the last six games.
"We played better here down the stretch," said Ashland head coach John Schaly. "We've been playing a lot of young guys, and they are getting better. Our guys kept battling. It's been a tough year, and it was nice to finish with that winning streak."
ODU is 24-21, 15-13.
Trailing 5-2 through 4½ innings, Eagles put up a five-spot in the bottom of the fifth to take a lead they would not relinquish. Senior center fielder Carsten Dembeck's RBI single got things going in the fifth, then freshman catcher Logan Stoldt came home on a wild pitch, junior second baseman J.P. Sorma doubled home a run and freshman designated hitter Alex Laikos launched a two-run home run.
Ashland's three-run seventh inning gave it a 10-5 lead. Junior left fielder Greg Ludwig singled for one run, and Sorma hit a two-run homer to cap the frame.
Leading 11-7 going into the ninth, the Eagles had to do some maneuvering to finish off the win. The Panthers sent the tying run to the plate with two outs before sophomore right-hander Sam Rice got the game-ending strikeout.
Two late-season Eagle "finds" continued their solid play on Wednesday. Sophomore righty Ryan Curtis (2-0) struck out six and allowed six hits, three runs and a walk in four innings, and in the last eight days, has two wins and 13 strikeouts in 12 2/3 frames.
Laikos was 3-for-4 with the round-tripper and two RBIs. In the final 11 games of 2017, he was 14-for-38 (.368) with nine runs scored, five home runs and 14 RBIs.
"Alex has really been swinging the bat well," Schaly said. "We have a good freshman class, and they got a lot of good experience this year. This is Ryan Curtis' first year as a full-time pitcher, and he's really come on.
"We've got some bright spots looking towards next year."