James’ Walk-Off Homer Lifts Eagles Over Findlay In Florida

Stephen James
Stephen James

Senior second baseman Stephen James' game-winning two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning capped off a big Ashland University rally against Findlay, and lifted the Eagles to a 10-8 victory on Monday (March 2) afternoon in Auburndale, Fla.

James went 5-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored, and ended a double short of the cycle after rapping three singles, a triple and the game-winning homer.

"He had a great day with the bat," said Ashland head coach John Schaly. "He finished the day with the clutch hit. He was definitely a leader offensively. We broke out offensively as a team, with Stephen being the leader."

The Eagles trailed 8-3 after 4½ innings, then scored once in the sixth, once in the seventh, twice in the eighth and three times in the ninth. Junior third baseman Mike Lewandowski's RBI single tied the game at 8 prior to James' heroics.

Ashland collected 19 hits in the victory, including three from junior first baseman Mackenzie Hampshire and two each from senior shortstop Austin Walts, junior designated hitter Blake Bellman, freshman third baseman J.P. Sorma and Lewandowski. Sophomore right fielder Joey Gonzalez drove in two runs.

Freshman pitcher Luke Smith got the win in relief, throwing 3 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings. He struck out two and walked two.

"Luke threw well. First outing as a freshman, and he put up four zeros to give us a chance," Schaly said.

Ashland (3-1) will continue its spring trip on Tuesday (March 3) with a game against another Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival, Grand Valley State, at 2 p.m. Like Monday's game, Tuesday's contest will not count in the GLIAC standings.