Eagles Falter Against USI In NCAA Regional, 11-3

Eagles Falter Against USI In NCAA Regional, 11-3

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Ashland University baseball team out-hit Southern Indiana, 10-9, but the Eagles committed four errors and lost to the Screaming Eagles, 11-3, on Friday (May 19) night at Robin Roberts Stadium in the second round of the NCAA Midwest Regional.

With the loss, the Eagles fell into the lower bracket and will have to fight their way back into contention. That battle starts Saturday (May 20) at 4 p.m. ET against Ohio Dominican, which stayed alive Friday by beating Hillsdale, 4-3. The Eagles and Panthers split two games in the regular season.

Ashland (33-21) got a quality effort from sophomore right-hander Chance Hitchcock, but the defense committed two errors in the sixth inning leading to five USI runs that broke a 2-2 tie. Southern Indiana (34-21) tacked on four more runs in the seventh off the AU bullpen to put the game away.

Junior Alex Niecikowski opened the scoring in the second inning, slugging the first pitch he saw from USI starter Austin Krizan over the wall in left for his third homer of the season.

USI's Buddy Johnson countered in the bottom of the second with his own solo blast to left, and two batters later, Spenser Deom's RBI single gave the Screaming Eagles a 2-1 lead.

Ashland quickly tied it in the third as junior Sam Hawley drew a one-out walk and scored from first on a rope down the left field line by senior Connor Barleben.

Hitchcock settled in in the third, eliminating a one-out walk with a pickoff. He retired the side on four pitches in the fourth inning and pitched around a two-out error in the fifth to keep the game tied.

The game unraveled in the sixth inning as two Screaming Eagles reached on walks. A fielder's choice put runners on the corners with two down, but an error allowed a run to score and kept the inning alive for USI, which needed just one hit to plate five runs in the inning. The big blow came on Ethan Hunter's bases-clearing double, giving USI a 7-2 lead.

Sophomore Michael Rogers singled to start the seventh, but Krizan induced three straight groundouts to get his offense back to the plate where Southern Indiana plated four more runs to put the game out of reach.

Hitchcock (6-5) took the loss, allowing seven runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks while striking out five in six innings of work. Krizan (3-3) went the distance and allowed three runs (two earned) on 10 hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Barleben and Rogers led the offensive efforts with two hits apiece.