Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has repeatedly said that in baseball, momemtum is the next game's starting pitcher. That axiom was proven again on Saturday (Apr. 20) in Canton, Ohio, where Ashland and Malone split a GLIAC baseball doubleheader.
In the first game the Pioneers, behind Jared Messer, shut down the Eagles, 5-1. AU behind red-hot right-hander Jake Baldwin (Madison Heights, Mich./Lamphere), took the second game, 11-0.
The Eagles, ranked 19th in the nation, have won four of their last five games and are 27-11, 15-7 in the conference. Malone is 15-21 and 8-15. The teams will play a nine-inning single game on Sunday (Apr. 21) in Canton.
Malone has relied heavily on Messer all season. Most times, Messer, who is 5-3 has delivered. This is Malone's first year in the GLIAC and there may have been some fans who didn't know about the Malone ace, but coaches around the league knew what he could bring to the mound. Messer pitched a complete game Saturday, holding the Eagles to four hits. He walked two and struck out four.
Only freshman designated player Mackenzie Hampshire (Delphos, Ohio/Elida) had much success against Messer. Hampshire had a double and a single and drove in AU's only run.
Center fielder Daulton Ritter went 3-for-3 for Malone. Third baseman Bob Suitca had a triple and a double. Six Malone players had two or more hits. Senior righty Eric Vaughan (Delta, Ohio/Owens C.C.) took the loss. He lasted 4.1 innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on 12 hits. Vaughan is 6-2.
Sophomore right-hander Jon Thacker (Bellbrook, Ohio/Sinclair C.C.) pitched the final 1.2 innings and didn't allow a run.
Malone scored single runs in the first and second innings and pushed across two more runs in the third. That was plenty of support for Messer.
Baldwin dominated the second game. This was the third consecutive start where the sophomore held the opposition scoreless. The last time out, Baldwin blanked Northwood. This time, he allowed two hits, none over the last three innings. Baldwin (4-0) struck out the side in the seventh. He had 10 strikeouts in the game. This was his second complete game.
Junior third baseman Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) doubled and drove in three runs. Outfielder Alex Sortwell (San Mateo, Calif./Canada College) was 2-for-3 and scored three times. Second baseman Stephen James (Westlake, Ohio) was 2-for-3. Catcher Adam Murphy (West Carrollton, Ohio) drove in two runs.
The Eagles broke open the game in the fourth inning. Ahead 2-0 after three innings, the Eagles scored four times in the fourth. This was the second consecutive start where the Eagles provided Baldwin with 11 runs.