The Ashland University baseball team swept host Ohio Dominican on Monday (April 22) afternoon by scores of 6-2 and 5-4 in Columbus.
The Eagles (32-7), ranked No. 21 in the NCBWA Division II poll, have now won five straight games after a brief three-game losing skid. They will now trek to Northwood this weekend for their penultimate GLIAC series of the regular season.
In Game 1, the Eagles took the lead in the first inning as senior Matt Littrell drew a one-out walk and went to third on a single by sophomore Logan Stoldt. With two outs, the pair executed a double steal with Littrell swiping home to give Ashland a 1-0 lead.
The Panthers (21-18) responded with a bases-loaded hit by pitch in the bottom of the inning before taking a brief lead on Colin Kaucher's RBI single in the second.
The Eagles took the lead back in the fourth inning as Stoldt and junior Michael Rogers drew walks before sophomore Micah Allen poked a single down the left-field line to tie the game at 2. Senior Sam Hawley followed with an RBI bunt single and a sac fly by sophomore Austin Eifrid pushed AU's lead to 4-2.
Allen's two-run homer in the fifth inning doubled the Eagles' lead and essentially put the game out of reach.
Junior right-hander Chance Hitchcock was excellent in long relief for the Eagles, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He scattered just four singles while relieving starter Perry Bewley, who gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings.
The first two runners reached against Hitchcock in the seventh before head coach John Schaly turned to ace reliever Chris Slavik, who wiped out the next three batters on strikeouts to end the game.
Hitchcock (5-1) earned the win for his efforts while Slavik picked up his fourth save of the season.
Allen was 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored to lead the AU offense, which managed just five hits but drew seven walks and a hit batsman.
The Eagles once again took an early lead in Game 2 on Rogers' sac fly in the first inning to score Eifrid. ODU tied the game in the bottom of the first, loading the bases before a balk brought in a run.
AU took a 3-1 lead in the second inning as junior Jason Swope and sophomore Dillan Smith walked and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Eifrid then delivered a two-run single through the middle.
Smith added to the lead with a solo homer in the fourth inning and Littrell's sac fly in the sixth made it 5-1.
The Panthers made it interesting by scoring three runs in the sixth inning, but right-hander Devin Peters, who was on in relief, got a strikeout to end the inning.
Peters retired the side in order in the seventh to earn his first save of the season. Sophomore right-hander Josh Stover got the start and went four innings, allowing one run on two hits with three walks and a strikeout. He picked up the win to improve to 5-1 on the season.
Eifrid paced the AU offense, going 4-for-4 at the plate with a double, two runs and two RBI. Sophomore Logan Moss added two hits.
The Eagles will now travel to Northwood for a four-game series that begins Friday (April 26) at 3 p.m.