Despite a lengthy comeback, Ashland University's baseball team's five-game winning streak was snapped by West Liberty, 9-8, on Wednesday (March 30) in a nine-inning non-conference game at Donges Field.
"We didn't pitch very well in the first two innings," said Ashland head coach John Schaly. "We mounted a comeback, just dug ourselves too big a hole."
The Eagles fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning, then 7-0 after 1½ frames. Ashland got on the board in the bottom of the third on an RBI infield single by senior first baseman Mackenzie Hampshire.
The Hilltoppers, however, tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth to take a 9-1 lead.
Ashland continued to claw its way back with three runs in the fifth thanks to a two-run home run to center field by sophomore designated hitter Greg Ludwig and an RBI single by sophomore left fielder J.P. Sorma.
Then, in the sixth, the Eagles cut into their deficit further, adding two runs to make it a 9-6 contest. Ludwig's RBI single and a sacrifice fly from senior first baseman Mackenzie Hampshire got AU within striking distance.
In the seventh, the West Liberty advantage was cut to 9-7 on an RBI single by junior catcher Adam Vasil. Then, in the ninth, Sorma hit his third home run of the season to left center to make it a 9-8 score.
Back-to-back strikeouts, however, ended the AU comeback.
In spots 2-4 in the batting order, junior third baseman Lance Myers was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, Ludwig was 2-for-5 with the homer and three RBIs and Hampshire was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
"Those are guys we've been counting on all year," Schaly said. "They're swinging the bats well right now."
Sorma was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
"Our guys aren't going to quit," Schaly said. "We had a chance. We got the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning."
The Eagles (13-9 overall, 4-0 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) will return to GLIAC play on Saturday (April 2) and Sunday (April 3) in a four-game set at home against Grand Valley State (12-8-1, 3-1). Saturday will be the 2006 College World Series team reunion.