A staff infection can leave a body in shambles.
A staff injection can keep a baseball team out of sick bay.
That was the case on Wednesday (Apr. 23) at Donges Field where the Ashland University Eagles swept a doubleheader from Findlay.
Behind a complete game from righty Vince Frate, the Eagles took the opener, 5-0. In the nightcap, after the Oilers scored four runs in the top of the first inning, the bullpen silenced them the rest of the way. That, and Mike Lewandowski's two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning, spelled the difference in a 5-4 triumph.
Ashland is 21-15 and 11-10 in the GLIAC. This puts the Eagles in the thick of the race for the sixth and final playoff spot for the GLIAC Tournament. This was AU's first sweep of a doubleheader since Apr. 5 at Hillsdale.
The sweep gives AU head coach John Schaly 995 career wins.
Frate (8-3) gave a masterful performance in the opener. He limited the Oilers (11-24, 8-17 GLIAC) to five singles and a Joe Sickler triple in pitching his team-high fifth complete game of the season. Frate walked one and stuck out one. This was his second shutout of the season.
AU gave Frate all the runs he would need in the first inning. Right fielder Mackenzie Hampshire doubled to drive in Austin Walts, who had also doubled. Designated hitter Kyle Brooks drove in Wade Kaido from third base with a sacrifice fly to center. Kaido had reached base via a walk. He drew six walks in Wednesday's two games.
In the fourth inning, Alex Sortwell drove in a run with a single and Walts made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly. In the sixth inning, Nick Edwards led off with a double down the left field line. He scored on a Walts single up the middle.
AU defeated a tough customer in the opener. UF's Drew Hargrove is 2-7, but he's had success against Ashland in the past. On this day, he allowed five runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings.
The Oilers didn't wast any time attacking rooke Mitch Cox in the second game. Cox didn't make it out of the first inning. He pitched two-thirds of an inning and allowed four runs - two earned - on two hits. Cox also walked two batters.
Cox left the game after seven batters. Cory Teachout entered and pitched four scoreless innings. Next came David Devine, who contributed two thirds of an inning. Finally, Alex Smith came on to pitch 1.6 scoreless frames. That trio allowed four hits.
A sacrifice fly by Carsten Dembeck in the second inning narrowed the UF lead to 4-1. Ashland scored twice in the third inning and tied the game in the fifth on a Hampshire double.
In the top of the seventh the Oilers had runners on first and third with one out. Smith (6-4) escaped the jam by retiring Michael Louis and Jordan Garcia on infield popups.
Kaido led off the seventh inning by drawing a walk from Alex Williams (3-2), the third UF pitcher of the game. Kaido stole second base then watched as Hampshire went out on a fly ball to right and pinch hitter Greg Ludwig was retired on a grounder back to Williams.
That brough Lewandowski to the plate. He hit a rocket back through the box that Sickler, playing second, was able to knock down behind the second base bag. The UF infielder got off a hurried throw to first but Lewandowski beat the throw for his fourth hit of the afternoon.
AU will play a three-game series against Walsh this weekend at Donges Field. The first two games of that series will be played on Saturday (Apr. 26, 1 p.m.).