Clean As A Whistle, Eagles Quiet Dragons, 4-0

Brad Thomas delivers a pitch to the plate against Tiffin.
Brad Thomas delivers a pitch to the plate against Tiffin.

            From the way they worked on Friday (Apr. 12), it would appear that Ashland University pitchers Brad Thomas (Orrville, Ohio) and Eric Vaughan (Delta, Ohio/Owens C.C.) were never forced to sit at the dinner table long into the night as punishment for not cleaning their plates.

            In a GLIAC doubleheader with Tiffin on Friday, the two senior pitchers didn't leave a crumb for the Dragons. The plate, and the scorecard, were nearly spotless as Thomas raised his record to 7-1 with a complete-game, three-hit, 4-0 shutout.

            The second game was suspended after five innings with AU in front, 11-2. At that point Vaughan had allowed two runs on six hits. In 12 innings of work on Friday, the AU duo did not walk a batter and had seven strikeouts.

            The Eagles, ranked 14th in the country, are 22-8, 11-4 in the GLIAC. Tiffin is 15-16 and 9-7. The second game will be resumed next Wednesday (Apr. 17) in Tiffin where these two teams will also play a nine-inning game.

            "We had two great pitching performances from Thomas and Vaughan," said AU head coach John Schaly, who needs four more victories to reach 600 career wins.

            Thomas allowed a first inning single to shortstop Roger Christensen, a fifth inning single to second baseman Nick Calandra and a lead-off double in the sixth inning to left fielder Cole McCurry. Thomas retired the last six batters he faced and the ball didn't leave the infield during that stretch. Thomas struck out four and got 13 outs via ground balls.

            The Eagles got the senior a run in the fourth inning when first baseman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) doubled to right field to score outfielder Alex Sortwell (San Mateo, Calif./Canada College), who had walked.

            AU scored three more runs in the fifth inning. Center fielder Austin Erb (Mechanicsville, Va./Hanover), Sortwell and Gray had RBI singles in the inning. All of the damage came against starter and loser, Joe Perretta (2-2).

            Gray was 3-for-3 with two RBI in the first game. He was 2-for-2 with an RBI when the second game was halted.

            "He's capable of that," remarked Schaly. "When he uses the whole field he can be dangerous."

            Schaly makes a good point. In the second game, Gray had a single to left and a double to right. In the opener, he had two hits to right field and one to left.

            AU clubbed two homers in the second game. Sortwell hit a shot over the left-field wall and third baseman Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) had a three-run blast to left.

            Vaughn retired 10 of the first 11 hitters he faced. He was backed by an excellent defensive play in the fourth inning when the Eagles cut down third baseman Jordan Stum at home plate. Stum was trying to score from second base on a single to center by Tayler Glass. Erb made a perfect relay throw to Gray, who turned and fired a strike to catcher John Broll (Mississauga, Ont./Genesee C.C.) to erase Stum.

            The ability of Thomas and Vaughn to keep the bullpen pitchers glued to their chairs on Friday could be of major significance in the next two days. AU hosts Northwood in a doubleheader on Saturday (Apr. 13, 1 p.m.) and hosts a single game with the Timberwolves on Sunday (Apr. 14, 1 p.m.).