TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. – Junior Carson Mittermaier smoked an 0-2 pitch over the center field wall to give the Ashland University baseball team an 8-6 win over Saginaw Valley in the opening round of the GLIAC Tournament on Thursday (May 9) night at Wuerfel Park.
The Eagles (38-10) advanced to play either Davenport or Northwood on Friday (May 10) in the next round of the tournament at 2:30 p.m.
Saginaw Valley tied the score at 6 in the top of the ninth inning, but senior Matt Littrell led off the bottom half with a sharp single to right.
Mittermaier then swung away on the first pitch before fouling off a bunt attempt on the second pitch. He didn't hesitate on the third offering.
"Before the at-bat, Coach (Schaly) told me, 'I'll give you one, then whatever happens there I'll give you a bunt the second one.' I obviously didn't get that down, so I thought he was going to give it to me again, but he wiped it off," Mittermaier said. "Everyone was asking me if I set that up."
The homer capped a game in which the Eagles struggled defensively with four errors, but got through it with a gutty pitching performance from senior Devin Peters.
The All-GLIAC first team selection gave up an early run in the first inning before two errors in the third inning helped the Cardinals (18-28-1) score three runs to take a 4-1 lead.
Back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the third by Mittermaier and sophomore Logan Stoldt cut the deficit to 4-3.
Peters settled in in the fourth inning, striking out the side, then retiring the side in order in the fifth. At one point he struck out five straight Cardinals on his way to 11 strikeouts in seven innings.
"The feeling is unreal to talk about as a pitcher, you just feel like nobody can beat you, and that's how I was," said Peters. "That two-seam, it felt like I could throw anything and they weren't going to hit it."
The Cardinals got a run off Peters in the sixth to make it 5-3, but the Eagles responded with three runs in the bottom half to take a 6-5 lead. Sophomore Logan Moss drew a bases-loaded walk and sophomore Austin Eifrid delivered the go-ahead blow with a two-run single through the middle.
Head coach John Schaly turned to sophomore right-hander Perry Bewley in the eighth inning and the Cardinals put two aboard after a leadoff groundout.
Senior relief ace Chris Slavik came on and got the next two hitters to preserve the lead. Saginaw was able to squeak out a run with the help of an error in the ninth to tie the game.
That set up Mittermaier's heroics.
"It's just special," he said. "I don't think we've ever had a team in my three years here that's been this close. I feel like in the bigger games, even if we struggle a little bit, we just know we're going to win."
The Eagles will now play the loser of Thursday's Northwood-Davenport night-time matchup on Friday (May 10) at 2:30 p.m. at Wuerfel Park.