In a 2016 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament-opening game in which there were many crooked numbers on the scoreboard, the one which stood out the most was in the error column.
On Thursday (May 12), Ashland University's baseball team opened up conference tournament play against Walsh, and five Eagle errors led to seven unearned runs in a 12-10 loss to the Cavaliers. AU is 31-19, and will look to stave off elimination on Friday (May 13) at 10:30 a.m. against Hillsdale at the Athletes In Action Sports Complex in Xenia, Ohio.
The Eagles started Thursday's game strong, scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI groundout off the bat of junior shortstop Brad Hartman. Ashland added two more runs in the third on RBIs singles by sophomore third baseman J.P. Sorma and freshman second baseman Cameron Nunn for a 3-0 advantage.
Walsh, however, responded with a four-spot in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. The game began to take its see-saw form in the bottom of the fifth when AU scored twice to take a 5-4 lead. Nunn's sacrifice fly tied the game, and an RBI single by junior catcher Adam Vasil put the Eagles back on top.
The Cavaliers turned around and put up four more runs in the sixth for an 8-5 lead. Ashland got a run back in the sixth when senior center fielder Nick Edwards posted an RBI single.
Two more runs in the eighth extended Walsh's lead to 10-6, but the Eagles scored four times in the eighth to knot the contest at 10. Senior first baseman Mackenzie Hampshire began the rally with an RBI single, then Sorma followed with the same. Freshman pinch-hitter Nic Varda's two-run double brought AU all the way back.
In the ninth, however, the Cavaliers scored twice for the deciding runs. Ashland had the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn't get any closer.
Of Ashland's 13 hits, three each came from Sorma and Hampshire – extending their hitting streaks to 24 and 11 games, respectively. Nunn was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Sorma and Varda also drove in two runs each.
Junior left-handed pitcher Mike Gentile ended up allowing nine hits, six runs (four earned) and a walk and striking out two in five innings. Freshman righty Sam Rice went the next three innings, yielding two hits, four runs (all unearned) and five walks and striking out one.
The loss went to sophomore southpaw Derek Baker (3-5), who allowed two hits and two runs (one earned) and struck out one in the ninth.