Eagles Win Three Games On Thursday Behind Strong Pitching

ASHLAND, Ohio – It's not often a baseball team can tack on three wins in one day, but that is just what Ashland did on Thursday (April 21) afternoon at Donges Field against GLIAC foe Tiffin. It is also not often that a pitcher records and a win and a save on the same day, but junior Eric Vaughan (Delta, Ohio/Owens CC) accomplished that feat as well.


The Eagles won their suspended game, 8-4, and then swept the regularly-scheduled doubleheader, 3-1 and 5-2. AU has now won 12 of their last 14 games.


The Eagles pitched very well in the three games, allowing just seven runs (six earned) in 21 innings pitched. AU pitchers walked just one batter in the three games.


The Eagles (24-12, 13-8 GLIAC) led in the top of the second inning on March 30 in Tiffin when play was halted by snow. The game was picked up in Ashland on Thursday and the Eagles picked up three runs in the fourth inning.


Freshman Adam Murphy (West Carrollton, Ohio) led off with a walk and went to third on a double by senior Matt McAllester (Westlake, Ohio). Senior John Kuzio (Marion, Ohio/Pleasant) then reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases for senior Evan Melendez (Amherst, Ohio/Steele), who singled to right-center to score Murphy and McAllester. The third run in the inning came around on a double down the left-field line by sophomore Austin Erb (Strasburg, Ohio/Hanover).


In the fifth inning, Kuzio delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 6-0 Ashland.


Freshman Cole Hudson (Dresden, Ohio/Zanesville) started on the mound for Ashland on Thursday, replacing sophomore Brad Thomas (Orrville, Ohio), who was the starter three weeks ago. Hudson was solid until the fifth inning when he ran into some trouble. The Dragons tagged him for four runs on four hits in the inning to cut the lead to 6-4.


Vaughan, on in relief, calmed the matter by getting Colin Lowe to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.


The Eagles scored two insurance runs in the seventh inning off Conor Wendt, who started the game on March 30 and worked all 5.2 innings on Thursday. McAllester and Melendez had RBI hits in the inning.


Vaughan locked down the Tiffin lineup, working 2.2 innings for his first career save.  He allowed just one hit, walked none and struck out one. Hudson (2-0) earned the win in relief, allowing four runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings. He walked none and struck out two.


McAllester was 4-for-4 with two doubles, three runs, a stolen base and an RBI. Melendez was 3-for-5 with three RBI.


Wendt (0-4) allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 14 hits with three walks and four strikeouts in his complete game. Pat Curtin, Jordan Chiero and Zach McCutcheon had two hits each for the Dragons.


The Eagles got lights-out pitching in Thursday's second game – a 3-1 AU win. Thomas got the start and allowed just an unearned run on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts.


Ashland scored single runs in the each of the first two innings. Freshman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) singled home McAllester in the first inning after the latter singled and moved to second on a single by Kuzio.


The Eagles scored with the help of the Tiffin defense in the second inning as senior Ryan Avery (Berea, Ohio/Cuyahoga CC) was hit by Tony Naso's pitch to start the inning. He went to second on a throwing error by the catcher, McCutcheon, who tried to pick Avery off first base. Freshman Ethan Reese (Massillon, Ohio/Perry) singled to plate Avery and give AU a 2-0 lead.


Tiffin scored in the fifth inning as Ryan Williams singled and went to second when McCutcheon reached on an error by Thomas. Pat Curtin grounded into a double play, but Williams went to third base and scored on a single to center by Michael Dushane. Thomas ended the inning by picking Dushane off first.


AU head coach John Schaly turned to his ace, senior Ajay Meyer (Hamler, Ohio) to work the final two innings of the game.


A single and two hit-by-pitches loaded the bases with one out for Ashland in the bottom of the sixth before Erb tapped into a run-scoring fielder's choice to give Ashland an insurance run.


Meyer pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to preserve his perfect line and his second save of the season. Naso (1-4) worked all six innings for the Dragons and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits. He walked none and struck out two.


At the plate, Gray was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, while Kuzio was also 2-for-3. Lowe and Williams had two hits apiece for the Dragons.


Vaughan took the hill in game three for Ashland and was every bit as good as he was when picking up the save in game one.


The Eagle bats were quiet early as left-hander Chris Sauber matched zeros with Vaughan through three innings.


The Dragons broke through first with two runs in the fourth inning. Chris Hornyak singled and Jordan Chiero was hit by a pitch to put two runners on with two outs. Val Helldobler gave Tiffin the lead with an RBI single to right-center. With Williams batting, Helldobler broke for second on a delayed steal. AU catcher Chaz McGrain (Valley City, Ohio/Olmsted Falls) fired to second to try and retire him, but Helldobler forced a pickle, giving Chiero a chance to steal home before Helldobler was tagged out to end the inning.


The Eagles cut the lead in half with a run in the bottom of the fourth as freshman Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) delivered a sacrifice fly that scored junior Mitch Klein (Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln) to score. McAllester followed with a single to right field, but Melendez was gunned down trying to score from second on a perfect throw by Williams in right field.


The Eagles took the lead for good in the fifth inning, scoring twice. Gray doubled and went to third on a single by Avery. With two down, Avery stole second. Melendez followed with a grounder to Curtin a first base. Curtin made a diving stab to his right and attempted a flip from his backside to the pitcher, Brock Mitchell, covering first. The flip sailed over Mitchell's head allowing Avery to score from second.


Ashland added two insurance runs in the sixth inning, as Gray ripped a single to center field that scored Kuzio and pinch-runner Bryan Miller (Brecksville, Ohio).

Vaughan (4-2) worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning to polish off the complete game win. He retired the last nine batters he faced on a day in which he threw 9.2 innings. He allowed just two runs on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts.


All but two starters had at least one hit for the Eagles. Gray was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Melendez was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Avery and Klein were both 2-for-4 with a run scored. McAllester was 1-for-2 and also had two sacrifice bunts.


Mitchell (0-1) took the loss for the Dragons. Pitching in relief, he allowed one run on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. He also allowed Sauber's runner to score in the fifth inning. Sauber allowed two runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout in 4.1 innings.


The Eagles do not get much time off as these three games started a stretch of seven games in three days. AU hosts Wayne State for the first two of a four-game set on Friday (April 22). First pitch is set for 1 p.m.


On May 7, the Eagles are hosting Baseball Youth Day at Donges Field, sponsored by Pizza Hut. AU is playing Hillsdale at 2 p.m. The event is for kids 12 and under and includes a goodie bag, pizza, drink and a raffle ticket to win various prizes. If registration is completed by May 2, the child will also receive a free t-shirt. Admission to the event is free for all. To register or if fans have any questions, they can contact AU director of athletic marketing Rachel Bixler at 419.289.5954 or send an email to rbixler@ashland.edu.