The Ashland University baseball team begins its NCAA Division II World Series journey on Saturday against Central Missouri.
NCAA Division II Baseball Championships (Game 1)
#4 Ashland (47-13) vs. #5 Central Missouri (43-14)
Saturday, June 1, 3 p.m.
USA Baseball National Training Complex | Cary, N.C.
LIVE STATS | WATCH | TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
AT THE WORLD SERIES: The Ashland University baseball program is making its sixth appearance in the NCAA Division II Baseball Championships and its first in Cary, N.C. It is the program's fifth appearance under 22-year head coach John Schaly, who led the Eagles in 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2008. Ashland has not won more than one game at the World Series in program history (3-10 all-time).
DEEP & BALANCED: The AU offense is formidable throughout the lineup as the team is batting .309 overall and reaching base at a .410 clip. Every position player on the active roster has an on-base percentage of at least .367. This team has established the program's single season record for walks with 282. Eleven Eagles have at least 18 RBI, and seven players have at least 30.
STARTING MATTERS: The Eagles have two bonafide aces at the top of their rotation in junior right-hander Chance Hitchcock and senior right-hander Devin Peters, who were each all-region selections. Hitchcock boasts an ERA of 2.86 over 91 1/3 innings with 96 strikeouts. He is 8-2 on the season. Peters is 8-1 with 122 strikeouts and a 3.95 ERA in 95 2/3 innings.
ALL-AMERICAN CLOSER: Senior right-hander Chris Slavik has been the key bullpen piece for the Eagles this season, tying teammate Josh Smith for the team lead with 27 appearances. Slavik is 13-1 on the season, tying for the NCAA Division II wins lead while also locking up eight saves. He has 71 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 49 innings. The last three seasons, Slavik was in and out of the starting rotation and was moved to the 'pen full-time for his senior season. In the postseason, Slavik is 4-0 with two saves in seven appearances. He has 21 strikeouts and a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings. Slavik was named to the ABCA All-America first team on Friday evening as the nation's top relief pitcher in 2019.
GET OUT THE WAY: Sophomore shortstop Austin Eifrid has had a breakout season at the dish. He leads the Eagles in hitting with a .356 average and also has a .498 on-base percentage. He has 27 walks on the season and has been hit by a pitch an astounding 34 times, which is a single-season school record and five more than any other NCAA college baseball player this season.
CARDIAC EAGLES: The Eagles have had a flair for the dramatic this season, coming from behind to win 23 times, winning 13 times in the last at-bat, and winning in walk-off fashion eight times. The Eagles advanced to the World Series on a walk-off wild pitch in Game 3 of the super-regional against Illinois Springfield.
STRIKEOUT KINGS: The AU pitching staff has established a school record for strikeouts with 520 on the season, which ranks seventh in Division II. Peters, Hitchcock, Slavik and sophomore right-hander Perry Bewley strike out more than a batter per inning.