ASHLAND, Ohio – In a weekend that looked promising at the outset, the AU baseball team dropped a pair of games to GLIAC North foe Northwood on Sunday (March 27) afternoon at Donges Field, 5-1 and 4-2.
The Eagles (11-6, 2-2 GLIAC) opened the series on Saturday (March 26) with two wins over the Timberwolves (7-5, 2-2 GLIAC), but ran into some solid pitching Sunday to split the series.
In the first game, the Timberwolves slowly built up their lead, scoring in each of the first four innings off AU starter Eric Vaughan (Delta, Ohio/Owens CC).
Northwood led, 2-0, after two innings before Casey Ingle knocked a two-run double into the gap in right-center that gave the 'Wolves a 4-0 lead.
Michael Goodwin pushed the lead to 5-0 in the fourth with a single down the left-field line that scored Andy Bouchard, who doubled to start the inning.
Northwood starter Mark Heard was solid in five-plus innings of work. He began to tire in the sixth, walking the first two batters he faced, giving way to Matt Hoffman. Catcher Adam Murphy (West Carrollton, Ohio) drove in the Eagles' first run of the game on a single to left-center. The Eagles loaded the bases with two outs after a walk by second baseman Matt McAllester (Westlake, Ohio), but designated hitter John Kuzio (Marion, Ohio/Pleasant) struck out to end the inning.
AU put two runners on in the seventh inning and third baseman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) drove in a run on a groundout, but the Eagles' rally was not enough.
Freshman reliever Vince Frate (North Royalton, Ohio) was great in relief for the Eagles. He retired all nine batters he faced, striking out four and no balls left the infield against him.
Vaughan (1-1) took his first loss of the season, allowing five runs (four earned) with two walks and three strikeouts. Heard (2-1) earned the win, allowing just one run on five hits. He walked four and struck out five.
Junior Joe Malfara (Port Clinton, Ohio) got the start in game two for the Eagles and pitched well. He allowed an unearned run in the first inning as the AU defense had two defensive miscues.
Left fielder Evan Melendez (Amherst, Ohio/Steele) gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead in the third inning with a two-run blast to right field. It was his first home run of the season and just the third for the Eagles on the year.
The Timberwolves put up a three-spot in the fifth inning to re-take the lead, collecting four hits in the inning – all singles.
Malfara (0-1) took the loss, surrendering four runs (two earned) on five hits. He walked none and struck out three. Junior Andrew Pinkelman (Delta, Ohio/Evergreen) allowed just one hit and one walk in 2.2 innings of relief.
Ryan Abraham (2-0) was excellent for the Timberwolves, tossing a complete-game five-hitter for the victory. He allowed just the two runs with five strikeouts and three walks.
Melendez was the only Eagle with three hits on the day, going 3-for-8 with the home run and two RBI. The Eagles hit just .222 as a team on Sunday.
Ashland will get back on the field for mid-week GLIAC action on Wednesday (March 30) at Tiffin. The teams will play a doubleheader, beginning at 2 p.m. The Eagles return home on Saturday (April 2) for the start of a four-game, two-day set with Grand Valley State.