Ninth-Inning Homer Ends AU's Run In Tournament

Mackenzie Hampshire (44)
Mackenzie Hampshire (44)

            SPRINGFIELD, MO  - In 1995, when the AU baseball advanced to the NCAA Division II World Series for the first time, they defeated the Lewis Flyers, 6-4 in the regional tournament.

            The teams did not meet again in the postseason again until Saturday (May 18) at Meador Park in the 2013 Midwest Regional Tournament. Wake up the ghosts of Gene Stechschulte, Eric Ocepek and Jeff Gottfried.

            The Eagles could have used those former stars. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, second baseman Drew Bundle singled up the middle off of closer Zach Botjer (Deshler, Ohio/Sinclair C.C.). Botjer (5-5) was in his third inning of work and this was the first hit he permitted.

            Left-handed hitting left fielder Jake Murray followed Bundle's hit with a fly ball to left. The ball got into the wind and kept going. Left fielder Austin Erb (Mechanicsville, Va./Hanover) crashed into the wall as the ball left the park.

            The homer was Murray's 10th of the season and it was the difference in a 5-4 Lewis win.

            Ashland went down in order in the ninth against righty Matt Frahm, who pitched a complete game.

Both teams entered the game with a loss in this double elimination tournament. AU ends the season with a 37-19 record. Lewis (33-17) moved into another elimination game against Bellarmine on Saturday night. Grand Valley State has the upper hand in this tournament. The Lakers are 2-0 entering Sunday.

            Ashland took a 1-0, first inning lead on two-out single by center fielder Alex Sortwell (San Mateo, Calif./Canada College). Sortwell's base hit scored designated hitter Mackenzie Hampshire (Delphos, Ohio/Elida), who had singled and advanced to second via a stolen base.

            The Flyers tied the game in the third. Shortstop Mike Barajas, hitting ninth in the order, doubled to left and moved up 90 feet on a passed ball. He scored on Murray's infield ground out.

            Lewis took a 3-1 lead against AU starter Rick Krieger (New Philadelphia) in the fourth inning. Krieger, who defeated Ohio Dominican in the GLIAC Tournament in his last start, retired the first two batters then issued a walk to catcher Kyle Thomas. Third baseman Mark Kornecker singled down the left-field line and Barajas doubled again, this time into the left-field corner. That brought both runners home.

            Frahm (7-2, 2.93 ERA entering the game) was around the plate all game long and he didn't allow the leadoff batter to reach over the first five innings. For the game, he walked one and struck out six. Ashland reached him for 10 hits.

            In the fourth inning, AU had a scoring opportunity wiped out when right fielder Shane Wagner (Volant, Pa./Mercyhurst Northeast C.C.) was thrown out at the plate. Wagner had doubled down the left-field line. With two outs, catcher John Broll (Mississagua, Ont./Genesee C.C.), who didn't start and was batting for the first time, singled sharply to right. Right fielder Ben Albano's throw to Thomas at the plate was perfect and Wagner was out.

In the fifth, the Eagles got to him for two runs, in part because the defense behind him faltered.

            With one out, third baseman Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) doubled. Frahm retired left fielder Erb thanks to an exceptional running catch by Murray in left. Hampshire hit a fly ball to center field, which was dropped by Zach Stetson. That allowed Kaido to score and Hampshire came home on first baseman Tyler Gray's (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) double down the right-field line.

            The Eagles took a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning. Wagner singled and a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Austin Walts (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele) moved Wagner to second. He scored when Broll singled again.

            Krieger left after six innings, allowing six hits. Lewis stranded seven runners with Krieger on the mound.

            The Eagles were the top seed in this tournament. This was their first postseason appearance since 2010.