Junior Matt Littrell hit a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to send the Ashland University baseball team to a 7-5 win and a four-game series sweep over Saginaw Valley State on Sunday (April 8) afternoon at Donges Field.
"We have a great team," Littrell said. "We have a phenomenal pitching staff and we have a bunch of guys who don't give up on the offensive side of it. We
The victory came on the heels of Ashland's six-run comeback win earlier Sunday in which the Eagles trailed 8-2 before scoring four runs in the seventh and eighth innings apiece to pull out a 10-8 win. That game started on Friday and was suspended after three innings due to rain with the Eagles behind 6-2.
Senior lefty Zack Whitehead, who got the final two outs of the third on Friday, stayed in the game and gave up single runs in the fourth and fifth innings as SVSU went up 8-2. After that, Whitehead retired nine Cardinals in a row before escaping a jam in the eighth by striking out Quincy Jones to keep the score at 8-6.
The Eagles (18-9, 8-4 GLIAC) cut into the 8-2 margin in the seventh with all four runs scoring with two outs. Littrell started with an RBI single that scored sophomore Alex Laikos, who started the inning with a single. Senior Connor Barleben followed with an RBI double down the line and senior Greg Ludwig roped a two-run double into the gap to cut the gap to 8-6.
Sophomore Michael Rogers and junior Alex Niecikowski started the inning with base hits, and two batters later, freshman Austin Eifrid delivered an RBI single to the opposite field. Littrell, sophomore Carson Mittermaier and Barleben each followed with RBI singles as Ashland scored four runs on seven hits in the inning. AU still had the bases loaded with one out, but were not able to add to their lead.
Senior right-hander Pat Carlozzi nailed down his second save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Whitehead (2-0) earned the win, tossing 5 1/3 relief innings and allowing only two runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked two.
SVSU reliever Caleb Somerville was tagged with the loss, giving up the final two runs in the eighth.
Every AU player had a hit in the game, led by Littrell and Ludwig's three hits apiece. Eifrid and Littrell each scored three runs.
The Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2 on Mittermaier's RBI groundout and an RBI double by Barleben.
SVSU answered in the next inning with three runs off AU starter Josh Stover, who otherwise was excellent in the finale.
Ashland took a 4-3 lead in the third, getting an RBI double from Ludwigh and a sac fly from Rogers.
Stover gave up a single in each of the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but none of them did damage as he kept AU ahead by a run.
The Eagles got an insurance run in the seventh on Mittermaier's run-scoring single, but a double play ended that inning.
SVSU countered in the top of the eighth on Todd Paperd's RBI single and Craig Wilson's RBI groundout off junior Ryan Curtis tied the game at 5.
In the bottom of the ninth, Eifrid singled with one out to bring up Littrell, who blasted a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right field for a no-doubt, walk-off homer. It was his third homer of the season.
"I got that first-pitch fastball, didn't swing at it and I missed it," said Littrell. "I wasn't going to miss another one."
The top five players in the order went 12-for-21 with six RBI and all seven runs scored. Eifrid, Littrell and Barleben had three hits apiece.
Stover got the no-decision, but allowed just three runs in 6 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four. Curtis (2-0) earned the win in relief.
The Eagles, who have won six straight and nine of 10, will look to continue their hot streak with a doubleheader on Tuesday (April 10) at 2 p.m. against Walsh.