Eagles Dodge Rain, Take Two From Front-Running Cardinals

Giancarlo Saia (18)
Giancarlo Saia (18)

ASHLAND, Ohio – When looking at the radar heading into Saturday (April 14) afternoon's GLIAC baseball doubleheader between Ashland and Saginaw Valley State, it was likely that the teams would have at least a couple stoppages for rain.

The forecasted rain showers (at least the downpours) held off long enough for the Eagles to sweep Saturday's twinbill from the Cardinals at Donges Field. Ashland won Game 1, 2-1, in nine innings before taking Game 2 in a 12-0 rout.

The Eagles are in third place in the GLIAC after Saturday's action, one game off the pace set by Lake Erie, which leads the league.

Junior right-hander Brad Thoams (Orrville, Ohio) took the ball in the opener and allowed a single hit in each of the first three innings.

The Cardinals (15-15, 11-7 GLIAC) finally touched him for a run in the fourth inning. Thomas retired the first two batters, but Cam Wiechmann reached on an error and scored on Brad Schalk's double down the right field line.

For a while it looked like that run would hold up as Saginaw Valley State starter Mike Saunders held the AU offense to just two hits in the first six innings.

The Eagles (20-12, 12-6 GLIAC) finally tied the game in the seventh inning. Sophomore Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) was hit by a pitch and junior John Broll (Mississauga, Ont./Genesee CC) reached on a bunt single. Freshman Cole Benner (Heath, Ohio) ran for Broll at first and junior Shayne Herold (LeRoy, N.Y./Genesee CC) laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners over to second and third.

Senior Zach Thompson (Marshalltown, Iowa/Cleveland State) followed that by ripping an RBI single to center field to score Gray. Benner flew around third, but was thrown out at the plate to send the game into extra innings.

Thomas came out for the eighth inning, but a walk and two errors loaded the bases with no one out. Thomas was lifted for junior Zach Botjer (Deshler, Ohio/Sinclair CC) at that point and the right-hander worked some magic. He got Mike VanAlst to pop up behind the plate on a 3-1 pitch for the first out. He then got Andy Orr to strike out looking and then struck out Chet LaFave on a full-count pitch on the outside corner to preserve the 1-1 tie.

Saunders worked around a couple singles in the bottom of the eighth to send it to the ninth.

Botjer worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for Ashland and the Eagles went to work in the bottom half of the inning. Sophomore catcher Chaz McGrain (Valley City, Ohio/Olmsted Falls) – who came on as a defensive replacement – reached on an error. McGrain advanced to second on Herold's sacrifice bunt. Thompson and freshman Stephen James (Westlake, Ohio) drew back-to-back walks to load the bases with one out. Pinch hitter Kyle Vozar (Hinckley, Ohio/Medina Highland) delivered the game-winning hit up the middle, past a drawn-in infield, to score McGrain.

Thomas allowed just an unearned run on five hits in seven innings of work. He walked two and struck out five. He threw 61 of his 96 pitches for strikes. Botjer (4-3) struck out two in two perfect innings in relief to pick up his fourth win of the year.

Saunders (4-2) took the loss, allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits. He struck out nine and walked three. Saunders made 147 pitches (97 strikes) in the game.

Broll was the only Eagle with two hits in the game and Matt Hunt was 2-for-3 with a walk for the Cardinals.

Both starting pitchers – senior Aaron Hilt (Richmond, Ohio/Edison) for Ashland and Eric Hummel for SVSU – cruised through the first two innings of Game 2.

The Eagles opened the scoring with four runs on five hits in the third inning. Freshmen Adam Urbania (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) and Austin Walts (Amherst, Ohio/Steele) had back-to-back triples to start the inning and freshman Giancarlo Saia (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) had an RBI groundout to make it 2-0.

Sophomore Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) followed with a triple into the right field corner – AU's third triple of the inning. He scored on a wild pitch. Gray then singled and scored on a double by Broll to push the AU lead to 4-0.

The Eagles added another run on the help of an SVSU error in the fourth inning.

Meanwhile Hilt was in cruise control. For the game, he allowed just five hits and did not walk a batter. He struck out nine in the game.

Ashland turned the game into a rout with seven runs on six hits and two errors in the sixth inning. Saia had a two-run double to start the scoring in the inning. Kaido, Broll and Thompson each had an RBI in the inning.

Hilt (6-3) needed just 85 pitches (60 strikes) in his complete game. Hummel (1-3) took the loss for the Cardinals. He surrendered five runs (four earned) on eight hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out two.

Seven Eagles had two hits in the second game of the doubleheader. Saia had three RBI and Broll had two RBI and two doubles. Walts was 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, a stolen base and three runs scored.

The teams will take the field again on Sunday (April 15). First pitch at Donges Field is scheduled for noon.