Eagles Walk Off Defending National Champs in 11 Innings

Eagles Walk Off Defending National Champs in 11 Innings

The Ashland University baseball team walked off defending national champion and No. 15-ranked Augustana, 4-3, in the 11th inning on Thursday (March 7) afternoon in Auburndale, Fla.

After the Vikings (3-3) scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th, senior Matt Littrell delivered a game-tying single that scored sophomore Austin Eifrid with one out in the bottom of the 11th. Sophomore Logan Stoldt followed it up with a walk-off single through the middle that plated junior Carson Mittermaier.

It was the first walk-off win of the season for the Eagles (8-1), who had five such victories in 2018.

The Eagles got another outstanding starting pitching performance, this time from senior right-hander Devin Peters. He gave up just one run in six innings and racked up 10 strikeouts.

The Vikings opened the scoring in the first inning on Ryan Nickel's RBI double, but Peters scattered just four hits in his last five innings of his outing.

Augustana starter Max Steffens kept the Eagles in check over his six innings, giving up just three hits and no walks. He retired 12 in a row at one point.

The Vikings took a 2-0 lead into the eighth when the Eagles finally touched up reliever Thomas Bruss.

Freshman Seth Schroeder reached on an error to lead off before sophomore Dillan Smith roped a pinch-hit RBI double to left-center to make it 2-1. Smith was thrown out trying to extend it to a triple.

Eifrid was then hit by a pitch and stole second. Another error put runners on the corners before Mittermaier's sac fly tied the game at 2.

Sophomore left-hander Josh Smith was excellent out of the bullpen, tossing two unblemished innings in the seventh and eighth before turning it over to senior Chris Slavik. The right-hander went unharmed in the ninth and 10th innings, but the Vikings scored the go-ahead run in the 11th.

Slavik (1-0) earned the win, while Augustana reliever Michael Brandt took the loss (0-1).

Peters did not factor in the decision, but lowered his season ERA to 1.86 and has now struck out 28 and walked just four in 19 1/3 innings. 

Sophomore Logan Moss was the only AU player to have multiple hits, going 2-for-4. Eifrid reached base twice and scored two runs.

The Eagles will continue their Florida trip on Friday (March 8) at 6:30 p.m. against Minnesota State-Mankato.