ASHLAND, Ohio – The Ashland University baseball team opened play in the GLIAC Tournament on Wednesday (May 9) afternoon in Chillicothe, Ohio, but wound up on the losing end in the first round, falling to No. 9 Grand Valley State, 5-1.
The Eagles now play Saginaw Valley State – the team that eliminated them from the conference tournament last year – on Thursday (May 10) at 10:30 a.m. in an elimination game. The Cardinals lost to Wayne State, 4-2, earlier Wednesday.
The Lakers (38-13) and Eagles (27-24) were even on hits in the game at 10-10, but GVSU was 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position and the Eagles were just 1-for-8.
Ashland took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, starting with three straight singles to load the bases with no outs against GVSU starter Kyle Schepel – the GLIAC's Pitcher of the Year. Senior outfielder Zach Thompson (Marshalltown, Iowa/Cleveland State) followed by drawing a walk to drive in a run.
Schepel performed a Houdini-like act to escape rest of the inning unharmed, getting freshman Giancarlo Saia (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) to ground into a 1-2-3 double play and then forcing sophomore Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) to ground out back to the mound on a bunt.
Ashland starter Zach Botjer (Deshler, Ohio/Sinclair CC) was solid in his outing for the Eagles. He held the Lakers scoreless until a double and then an RBI single by Jamie Potts tied the game at 1-1.
Giancarlo Brugnoni powered a leadoff home run in the seventh inning to give the Lakers a 2-1 lead.
Grand Valley State pounded out three runs on five hits in the eighth inning to doom the Eagles' chances of tying the game.
The Eagles had chances to score in the game, but couldn't come up with the big hit.
Thompson started the fifth inning with a leadoff triple to left field, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a foul fly ball. The Eagles loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, but a groundout ended that threat.
Botjer (8-5) took the loss for the Eagles. He allowed five runs on nine hits in 7.2 innings. He walked two and struck out four, making 113 pitches – 70 for strikes.
Cory Rademacher (3-0) earned the win for the Lakers, tossing 1.2 scoreless relief innings and striking out three. Schepel worked six innings, but was forced from the game after throwing 99 pitches. He allowed one run on seven hits, walking three and striking out three. Brad Zambron picked up his 15th save of the season, working 1.1 innings and allowing just one hit.
Freshmen Kyle Vozar (Hinckley, Ohio/Medina Highland) and Stephen James (Westlake, Ohio) had two hits apiece for the Eagles. Potts and Jared Cowan were both 2-for-4 and Potts finished with two RBI to lead the Lakers offensively.
The GLIAC Tournament continues on Thursday (May 10) when the Eagles play Saginaw Valley State in an elimination game. The Eagles swept the Cardinals in a four-game series at Donges Field April 14-15.