In what ended up being anything but a garden-variety doubleheader on Saturday (April 16), Ashland University's baseball team split at Hillsdale – winning 9-8 and losing 9-6.
The Eagles, who have won 11 of their last 15 games, continue to lead the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference at 19-12 overall and 10-2 in the league. The Chargers are 21-11, 9-5.
In Game 1, Ashland overcame five Hillsdale home runs – including three in a row in the sixth inning – to come away victorious.
The Eagles scored three times in the top of the first, then the Chargers countered with two runs in the bottom of the frame. AU scored twice in the second to take a 5-2 lead. The two teams then traded runs in the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, giving Ashland a 6-3 lead – and setting up a wild finish.
Hillsdale scored four runs on back-to-back-to-back homers against Eagle senior closer Alex Smith to take a 7-6 advantage. Ashland righted itself quickly, however, scoring thrice in the top of the seventh to regain the lead at 9-7. Sophomore third baseman J.P. Sorma's RBI double tied the game, then senior center fielder Nick Edwards and junior catcher Adam Vasil hit run-scoring singles to give the Eagles their cushion back.
The Chargers scored a run in the bottom of the seventh for the game's final margin, but AU freshman right-hander Sam Rice got the game's last two outs to clinch his first collegiate victory. Rice pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, an unearned run and a walk and striking out one.
Sophomore left fielder Greg Ludwig, Sorma, Edwards and freshman second baseman Cameron Nunn each had two of Ashland's 13 hits. Sorma hit a homer and drove in three runs, and junior shortstop Brad Hartman added a round-tripper and two RBIs.
Game 2 didn't see fireworks right away, but the scoreless tie was broken when both teams scored a single run in the third inning. Hillsdale, however, scored three times to take a 4-1 lead after four.
Ashland rallied with a two-spot in the fifth on a homer by senior first baseman Mackenzie Hampshire, cutting the deficit to 4-3. The Chargers kept coming, however, scoring another run to take a 5-3 lead after five.
The runs kept pouring in in the seventh, as the Eagles used a solo shot by senior right fielder Mike Lewandowski and an RBI double from Sorma to re-tie the game at 5 through 6½ innings.
Hillsdale, however, scored four times in the eighth, and Ashland managed a single run in the ninth.
Hampshire was 4-for-5 with the homer, three RBIs and two runs scored. Junior designated hitter Lance Myers was 3-for-5 with a double and three runs scored, Lewandowski was 2-for-5 with a homer and a double and Sorma was 2-for-5 with a double.
Sophomore right-hander Luke Smith (1-3) went seven innings, allowing 10 hits, eight runs and two walks while striking out three.
The Eagles and Chargers, sporting the two best overall winning percentages in the GLIAC, will play Games 3 and 4 of their series in Michigan on Sunday (April 17) at noon.