Strong Pitching Efforts Not Enough For Eagles at GVSU

Austin Erb
Austin Erb

ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University starting pitchers tossed a pair of complete games on Saturday (March 31) afternoon at No. 20 Grand Valley State, but the Eagles came up empty in a doubleheader sweep.

The Lakers' starting staff pitched just slightly better than the Eagles', lifting GVSU to wins in Game 1, 1-0, and Game 2, 4-2.

In the opener, junior right-hander Zach Botjer (Deshler, Ohio/Sinclair CC) allowed just one run on five hits, but came out on the losing side. He struck out five in his six-inning complete game. Botjer's overall record fell to 1-3, despite a 1.53 ERA.

Kyle Schepel, GVSU's all-time wins leader, tossed six innings, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out six. He made 106 pitches and was replaced by Brad Zambron in the seventh. Zambron allowed a lead-off single to junior Shayne Herold (LeRoy, N.Y./Genesee CC), but worked around it to pick up the save.

The Eagles (12-10, 4-4 GLIAC) loaded the bases with two down in the first inning, but Schepel escaped by getting a strikeout to end the inning. He also got a strikeout in the fourth when the Eagles put runners at second and third with two outs.

Grand Valley State (13-7, 3-3 GLIAC) scored the only run in the game when shortstop Kevin Zak lifted 2-1 offering from Botjer over the fence in left-center to lead off the fifth inning.

Junior Austin Erb (Mechanicsville, Va./Hanover) and sophomore Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) were the only Eagles to reach base twice.

In Game 2, the Eagles got a complete game from Herold, but could not produce the offense to back him up.

GVSU starter Ryan Garman, who no-hit the Eagles at Donges Field last season, tossed 5.1 innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits. He walked five and struck out nine. Overall, the GVSU staff struck out 13 AU batters in the game.

The Lakers opened the scoring with a single run in the third inning and scored three runs in the fourth inning, two coming on a double by Zak.

Ashland got on the board in the sixth inning as Herold helped himself with a two-out RBI single that scored Gray, who started the inning with a single. AU's second run in the inning came on a fielding error.

Herold allowed four runs (three earned) on just four hits. He walked one and struck out three, throwing 96 pitches in six innings. His record fell to 1-1.

Garman improved to 3-2 with the win and Zambron struck out three in 1.1 innings for his second save of the day.

Freshman Giancarlo Saia (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) was the only Eagle with two hits in the game. Senior leadoff hitter Zach Thompson (Marshalltown, Iowa/Cleveland State) walked twice.

The Eagles out-hit the Lakers, 5-4, in the game, reversing the totals from Game 1.

The teams will go at it again on Sunday (April 1) with a doubleheader set for noon at Laker Baseball Field.