SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Ashland University baseball team lost to Ohio Dominican, 13-7, in an elimination game at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional at Robin Roberts Stadium Saturday (May 19) afternoon.
The Eagles (33-22) saw their season come to an end with the defeat. It was a terrific bounce-back year for Ashland, which won just 20 games a season ago. The Eagles qualified for their 16th NCAA Tournament in program history and 15th in 21 seasons under head coach John Schaly.
Both seniors in the starting lineup – Connor Barleben and Greg Ludwig – homered in the game. Barleben's blast to start the second inning tied the game at 1 after Max Banke's homer gave ODU a 1-0 lead in the top half.
Ludwig provided his home run in the ninth – a three-run bomb that capped his collegiate career.
Junior right-hander Chris Slavik got the start for Ashland and tossed up zeros in the third and fourth innings against an ODU team that scored 37 runs in three games against the Eagles this season.
Slavik ran into trouble in the fifth, walking the first two batters before the next three reached on hits to plate four runs. Freshman Josh Stover got out of the inning, but not before the Panthers added to their lead, taking a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
Ashland got half those runs back in that frame with a two-out rally. Singles by sophomore Michael Rogers and junior Sam Hawley put runners on the corners for Ludwig, who dropped a bunt single down the third-base line to score a run. Sophomore Carson Mittermaier and Barleben followed with RBI hits to cut the margin to 7-4.
Stover kept the Panthers off the board again until the eighth, but four AU pitchers combined to give up six runs over the final two innings as the Panthers pulled away.
Slavik (4-2) suffered the loss, allowing six runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Stover was effective in relief, giving up just two runs in four innings.
Matt Kittelberger (7-5) earned the win for Ohio Dominican, surrendering four runs on seven hits with one strikeout and no walks.
The Panthers out-hit the Eagles, 18-8, as Colin Kaucher racked up four hits and a walk for Ohio Dominican. Ludwig was 2-for-5 with four RBI and Barleben was 2-for-3 with two RBI.