ASHLAND, Ohio – Right-hander Ajay Meyer (Hamler, Ohio/Owens CC) – the lone senior on the AU starting staff – started his senior celebration a day early with a one-hit shutout of Hillsdale in the opener of a doubleheader at Donges Field on Saturday (May 7).
The Eagles won the game, 3-0, and then took game two behind a strong performance by junior Eric Vaughan (Delta, Ohio/Owens CC).
It was the first one-hitter in Meyer's career and his third career complete game shutout. He struck out five and walked one.
Meyer (9-3) retired the first 12 Chargers he faced until he walked Matt Pochmara to start the fifth inning. He got out of the inning with two groundouts and a fly out.
Adam Connell's double to left-center with two outs in the sixth broke the no-hitter. Meyer calmly retired the last four batters he faced the rest of the way. No Chargers reached third base in the game.
Meyer lowered his season ERA to 1.47. It was also his 11th complete game of the season. That is an AU single-season record, breaking the previous mark that was set three times – last in 2002 by Ryan Hartzell. Only one time this season has Meyer started and failed to go the distance.
Ashland (29-18, 18-14 GLIAC) got on the board in the second inning. Freshman Mickey Manser (Salem, Ohio/West Branch) singled to center. Junior Ethan Houck (Fort Wayne, Ind./Glen Oaks CC) successfully laid down a bunt, but the throw by pitcher Michael Bauer sailed to the Hillsdale bullpen allowing Manser to score from first and Houck to advance to third.
Three batters later, senior Matt McAllester (Westlake, Ohio) drove in Houck on sacrifice fly to right field to make it 2-0.
AU added its final run in the third inning as sophomore Austin Erb (Strasburg, Ohio/Hanover) doubled and scored on Manser's single to left.
Michael Bauer (0-3) took the loss for Hillsdale. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Colin Gerish walked one in 1.1 hitless innings to finish the game for the Chargers (14-30, 10-20 GLIAC).
Manser, AU's designated hitter, was the only Eagle with two hits, going 2-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI.
In game two, Vaughan (5-3) allowed two runs – though none were earned – on 12 hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out six in a complete game, his third of the season.
The Eagles scored three times in the third inning to give Vaughan a cushion. Freshman Adam Murphy (West Carrollton, Ohio) reached on an error to start the inning and went to second on a bunt single by freshman Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio).
McAllester followed by laying down a bunt, but HC pitcher Charlie Fisher threw wildly to third base allowing Murphy to score and Kaido to go to third with McAllester going to second. Senior John Kuzio (Marion, Ohio/Pleasant) followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. McAllester then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by freshman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder).
The AU bats added two more runs in the fourth inning. Junior Mitch Klein (Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln) drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Shayne Herold (LeRoy, N.Y./Genesee CC). Houck followed with an RBI triple to deep center field. Herold came around to score on Murphy's sacrifice fly.
Hillsdale scattered hits throughout the game off Vaughan, but could never deliver a clutch hit off the right-hander. The Chargers were just 3-for-14 with runners on base and 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Hillsdale finally chipped in with two runs in the sixth inning, though both runs were unearned. Scott Lantis and Anthony Giarmo had the RBI in the inning.
The Chargers got a one-out single from Pat O'Hearn in the seventh inning, but Vaughan forced Chris Stephens to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Stephens finished with three hits for the Chargers to lead them offensively. No Eagle had more than one hit in the game. Fisher (1-7) took the loss for the visitors.
The Eagles will celebrate their seven seniors on Sunday (April 8) as the teams wrap up their four-game set at Donges Field. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. and the seniors will be introduced between games of the doubleheader.