Some folks see things in black and white. Others, who can't always make up their mind, see a lot of gray.
The Ohio Dominican Panthers would be the first to admit they've seen too much Gray in the last week. They've made up their minds about this – AU first baseman Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) can really swing the bat.
Gray wielded a hot bat last weekend (4-for-8, three RBI) when the AU baseball team took two of three games from the Panthers at Donges Field. He hadn't cooled off any when the teams met on Wednesday (May 8) in the first round of the GLIAC Tournament at Eastern Michigan.
Gray went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBI as the Eagles opened the tournament with a 10-2 win over the Panthers. Ashland will play Wayne State on Thursday (May 9, 5:30 p.m.). The Warriors slipped by Saginaw Valley State, 9-7 on Wednesday.
The other tournament first round game saw Grand Valley State pound Lake Erie, 8-0. This double elimination tournament has three games on tap for Thursday. In addition to the AU-WSU confrontation, Saginaw Valley State will play Lake Erie and Grand Valley State will play Ohio Dominican.
The Eagles are 33-16. Ashland is ranked first in the Midwest Region. The Eagles have won five of their last six games.
Ashland scored four times in the first inning and added four more runs in the second on Wednesday. That was plenty of support for senior righty Brad Thomas (Orrville, Ohio) who lasted 8.1 innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits. Thomas did not walk anyone and struck out three. He's 10-3 and is the conference leader in victories.
Gray contributed an RBI single in the first inning. He had another RBI single in the second. Another hitter carrying a hot bat the second half of the season – designated hitter Mackenzie Hampshire (Delphos, Ohio/Elida) had an RBI single in the second. Right fielder Shane Wagner (Volant, Pa./Mercyhurst Northeast C.C.) singled up the middle to plate two more runs in the frame. Wagner had three RBI in the game.
Leadoff hitter Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) was 3-for-5. Ashland had 12 hits, but the only extra-base knocks were the doubles by Gray.
The Eagles led 10-0 before ODU (23-27) got on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning. That run came courtesy of shortstop Jacob Horsley, who homered to left field.
Dan Mooney (6-6) suffered the loss. He went three innings and allowed 10 runs (eight earned) on nine hits. The Panthers hurt their cause with three errors.
AU and Wayne State played a doubleheader on Mar. 28 in Detroit. The Eagles swept that twinbill, 5-2 and 7-4. While AU appears to be in good shape as far as reaching the NCAA playoffs, Grand Valley State and Wayne State are among several teams going right down to the wire fighting for a postseason spot. For that reason, Thursday's AU-WSU game looms large in the playoff picture.