The Ashland University baseball team scored three times in the top of the seventh to win for the fifth time in its last at-bat in the last eight games as AU split a second straight doubleheader at Grand Valley State on Friday (April 13) afternoon. Ashland won the opener, 8-6, before falling in the nightcap, 10-4.
Sophomore Vince Vanata ripped a two-out, two-run single to center field with the bases loaded to snap a 4-4 tie in the seventh. The Eagles added another run on a passed ball later in the inning before junior right-hander Ryan Curtis closed the door in the bottom half.
Grand Valley State (21-15, 9-7 GLIAC) held a 2-0 lead after one inning, but Ashland (22-11, 10-6 GLIAC) rallied for four runs in the third to take a 4-2 lead. AU loaded the bases with no outs and got a two-run single by sophomore Carson Mittermaier that tied the game. Senior Connor Barleben's two-run double to left put the Eagles on top.
AU extended its lead to 5-2 in the fourth as Vanata drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a bunt single by junior Alex Niecikowski, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a balk.
Junior right-hander Chris Slavik was able to keep the Lakers off the board until the fifth when Nolan Anspaugh hit a two-run single to cut the margin to 5-4.
Curtis came on in the sixth and Zach Berry's RBI single tied the game at 5, but Curtis stranded a runner at second to keep the score knotted.
In the seventh, the Eagles loaded the bases with a single by junior Matt Littrell, a double by Mittermaier and a hit by pitch before Vanata's go-ahead single.
Curtis (3-0) earned his third win in a week by throwing the final two relief innings. Slavik tossed five innings and gave up four runs on five hits. He walked five and struck out eight.
GVSU reliever Kyle Lawson (0-1) suffered the defeat, giving up two earned runs in four relief innings.
Mittermaier, Vanata and Niecikowski each had two hits to pace the AU offense, which out hit the Lakers, 9-8.
In Game 2, the Eagles fell behind 6-0 after the first three innings and were never able to completely dig out of the hole.
Ashland got two runs back in the fifth on Niecikowski's two-run double with two outs. The Eagles trimmed their deficit to 6-4 in the seventh – the first run scoring on Niecikowski's infield single and the second coming around on a wild pitch.
The Lakers, though, blew it open with three runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Ashland starter Josh Stover took the loss, allowing four runs in 1 2/3 innings. Left-handers Zack Whitehead, Josh Smith and Nicky Zorne all pitched in relief. GVSU starter Tate Bradley (4-1) earned the win, allowing four runs on seven hits in seven innings.
The Eagles will return to Donges Field on Tuesday (April 17) to take on Findlay in a single game at 3:30 p.m.