Handling prosperity can be like juggling snakes. Just when you think you have a handle on the situation, something comes up and bites you.
Saturday at Donges Field, the Walsh baseball team had a 6-0 lead over Ashland in the fifth inning. AU went on to win that game, 8-6.
In Saturday's second game, the Eagles carried a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning. Walsh tied the game in the seventh and won in eight innings, 4-2.
The Eagles are 22-16 and 12-11 in the GLIAC. Walsh is 20-23 and 13-13. These two teams are in the mix for one of six spots in the GLIAC Tournament. The two teams will play a nine-inning game on Sunday (Apr. 27, 1 p.m.) at Donges Field. That's AU's final home game and it is Senior Day and Youth Day.
In Saturday's first game, Walsh starter Brandon Whitslar was mowing down the Eagles with ease until the fifth inning. Over the first four innings, the Eagles had collected three singles off of Whitslar. Walsh used a Jordan Shank sacrifice fly in the second inning to go in front, 1-0 and then scored four times in the fouth inning to lead, 5-0.
At that point, AU was holding on for dear life. The Eagles were on their third pitcher (they would use five, as would Walsh) and the offense seemed dormant.
How quickly life can change. Nick Edwards led off the fifth with a single down the left field line. Austin Walts was nicked by a pitch and Wade Kaido doubled to left field to drive in Edwards and send Walts to third base.
Mackenzie Hampshire followed with a single to plate Walts and Kaido. The final runs in the inning would come home on base hits by Carsten Dembeck and Edwards. By that time, Whitslar was in the dugout and like AU, the Cavaliers were putting out calls to the bullpen.
The Eagles followed up that five-run fifth inning with three runs in the sixth inning. Walsh pitchers issued two walks and hit a batter in the inning. Dembeck and Kyle Brooks had run-scorinng singles and Adam Murphy had a sacrifice fly.
AU managed to keep the Cavaliers off the scoreboard for the final two innings. First, David Devine (1-1) pitched a scoreless sixth inning to earn his first win of the season. Alex Smith pitched the seventh inning and got his first save of the season.
This game featured 10 AU hits. The pitchers from both teams combined to hit six batters.
The loss went to relief pitcher Jared Bettura (1-3).
In the second game, Brooks doubled home Kaido with two outs in the third inning for a 1-0 lead. Walsh tied the game in the fifth on right fielder Andrew Bonnette's single to left field.
AU went ahead, 2-1 in the sixth. With one out, catcher Adam Vasil was hit by a pitch. A walk moved him to second base and he came home on an Edwards single.
The Walsh seventh inning was particuarly painful for the Eagles. Smith was on the mound, he started the second game and had pitched extremely well. He retired the first two hitters in the seventh, but an infield error on a ball hit by Shank extended the inning. With Shank on first, Drew Link singled down the left field line and Walsh had runners on the corners.
Bonnette delivered a single to right field to bring home Shank. Smith got Michael Lee out on a foul popup to first base, but the Cavaliers had knotted the score.
The pain continued for AU in the top of the eighth inning. Johnny Knight led off with a double and moved to third on the play when Dembeck couldn't handle the ball in left field. After Smith got an out on a grounder back to the mound, Justin Clements singled in Knight. Clements went to second on a ground out and scored from second on another AU error.
Neal Edwards pitched a scoreless eighth inning to rack up his fifth save of the season. The win went to Ian Drapcho, who pitched 1.2 innings of relief. Walsh starter Joe Tann pitched 5.1 quality innings, allowing two runs on five hits.
Smith pitched a complete game and allowed four runs (two earned) on 11 hits.