Eric Vaughan (Delta, Ohio/Owens C.C.) has played the waiting game. Monday (Mar. 4) at Southern Indiana, the senior right-hander turned the tables on the Screaming Eagles.
Vaughan gave the Eagles a masterful performance. In seven shutout innings, he allowed four hits. He walked one and struck out one. Vaughan threw 68 pitches, 43 for strikes. All four hits he allowed were singles.
What makes this more impressive was that Vaughan missed all of last season due to injury. If there was any rust on his arm, it didn't show up on Monday. From start to finish, Vaughn was in control.
"We were looking for three or four innings," admitted AU head coach John Schaly. "He threw strikes and felt good. That's very, very encouraging."
Vaughan's performance allowed the Eagles to get a split in Monday's doubleheader. In the first game, USI stopped the Eagles, 8-4. Ashland is 2-1 and won't play again until the end of this week when it heads to Florida.
Southern Indiana is 5-1. This is a team that's expected to be one of the better outfits in the region. Vaughan tamed that team and he got plenty of help from his teammates. AU didn't commit an error and turned five double plays behind him. The Eagles had 16 hits. Ashland scored twice in the first inning, once in the second and then broke the game open with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
First baseman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) was 3-for-4 and drove in a run. Left fielder Austin Erb (Mechanicsville, Va./Hanover) went 3-for-6 with an RBI. Shortstop Austin Walts (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele) was 3-for-4 and drove in two runs. Right fielder Nick Edwards (Mason, Ohio/Archbishop Moeller) was 1-for-3 with a triple and three RBI. That three-bagger came in the eighth inning and brought home two runs.
"The whole weekend we swung the bats well," stated Schaly. "We used the whole field and guys hit up and down the order."
Once Vaughan left the mound, the Eagles turned to sophomore righty Vince Frate (North Royalton, Ohio) He didn't allow a hit and whiffed four in two innings.
In the first game, AU had a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the third inning. USI struck for five runs to take a 6-4 lead. The home team added a pair of runs in the fourth inning and the Eagles couldn't overcome that margin.
The win went to Brandon Shaw, who pitched four scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Walts and Gundlach had two hits apiece for the Eagles. Brent Weinzapfel was 2-for-4 with a double, triple and three RBI for USI. Designate hitter B.J. Willis had a two-run single in that third inning uprising.
Right-hander Zach Botjer (Deshler, Ohio/Sinclair C.C.) took the loss. He allowed six runs on six hits in 2.1 innings.
Up next for the Eagles is Winona State on Friday (Mar. 8, 6 p.m.) in Florida.