QUINCY, Ill. – Ashland University's baseball team dropped a 12-4 decision to Missouri S&T on Sunday (May 22) in the consolation finals of the 2016 NCAA Division II Midwest Regional tournament.
The Eagles' season ends at 33-22. Ashland, the 2016 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season co-champion, goes 2-2 at the Midwest Region tourney for the second year in a row. AU is third in the Midwest in 2016 after being the regional runner-up in 2015.
"We had a great year," said Ashland head coach John Schaly. "This team has accomplished so much. Two hundred teams in Division II not even playing this week, five teams in this tournament not playing in this game.
"They had a great year. This doesn't take away from what they've done all year long."
S&T dented the scoreboard first with five runs in the bottom of the second inning. It started with RBI singles from senior designated hitter Trevor Karbowski and sophomore catcher Justus Nelson, continued with a passed ball and a run-scoring safety from senior center fielder Tyler Bodenstab and ended with an RBI fielder's choice from senior right fielder Tyler Johnson.
The Miners added to their lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Johnson, a run-scoring triple hit by junior left fielder Eli Miller and a sacrifice fly from senior shortstop Nick Ulrich.
Ashland scored its first run in the top of the fifth when freshman right fielder Nic Varda came home on senior second baseman Mike Lewandowski's ground out. S&T got the run back in the bottom of the frame when Miller collected a sac fly, then extended its lead to 11-1 on a two-run double by Ulrich.
The Eagles continued the attempt to climb out of the hole in the sixth with a three-run home run by sophomore third baseman J.P. Sorma to make it an 11-4 contest. It was Sorma's 17th home run of the season, second all-time at AU, and extended his hitting streak to 29 games.
S&T took a 12-4 advantage later in the sixth on an RBI groundout by junior third baseman Adam Richter.
Sorma was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Lewandowski was 2-for-4 with an RBI. The loss went to sophomore left-hander Derek Baker (3-6), who allowed 11 hits and eight runs (seven earned) and struck out one in 3 1/3 innings.
Sunday's game was the last collegiate contest for the Eagles' six seniors – Lewandowski, first baseman Mackenzie Hampshire, center fielder Nick Edwards and pitchers Jake Baldwin, Alex Smith and Matt Kruzel.
"It was a very special group. These guys have accomplished a lot this year," Schaly said. "Today just wasn't our day.
"We started practice that first day in the fall. This is one of our goals, to make to the NCAA tournament. We've done it a lot of years. We'll go to work in the fall to get back here a year from now."