Three times the Ashland University baseball team won in its final at-bat in sweeping four games from Saginaw Valley State last weekend. That trend continued on Tuesday (April 10) as AU overcame 5-0 and 7-4 deficits by scoring seven runs in its final two at-bats to beat Walsh, 9-7, in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Donges Field.
The Eagles also won Game 1, 6-2, which means they have matched last season's win total and are riding an eight-game winning streak. It is AU's longest winning streak since a 10-game stretch from March 29-April 11, 2015.
Ashland (20-9) trailed Game 2 by a 5-0 count after two innings, but finally got on the board in the bottom of the third on an RBI triple by sophomore Carson Mittermaier. He scored when senior Connor Barleben followed with a groundout.
The Eagles scored twice in the fifth on bases-loaded walks by senior Greg Ludwig and sophomore Michael Rogers, but probably felt they could have scored more as they had the bases loaded with no outs and stranded three runners in the inning.
Walsh (16-14) answered with two runs in the sixth to push its lead to 7-4.
The Eagles quickly loaded the bases on three singles to start the bottom of the sixth. The Cavaliers then turned to Dylan Corsi, who hit Barleben with a pitch to bring in a run. After a strikeout, sophomore Vince Vanata hit a potential double-play ball to short, but Barleben beat the throw to second to keep the bases loaded and make it 7-6.
Rogers followed with a popup down the left-field line that third baseman Avery Janning was forced to catch with his back to home plate, allowing Barleben to tag up and tie the game.
The big blow came next as sophomore Alex Laikos slugged a double over the head of the left fielder to bring in two runs and give Ashland a 9-7 lead.
Two batters reached against junior right-hander Ryan Curtis in the seventh, but he induced a fly out and struck out Eric Conner to end the game. Conner hit three home runs on the day.
Senior right-hander Pat Carlozzi (2-0) picked up the win for Ashland, but freshman lefty Nicky Zorne was excellent in providing length out of the 'pen. He blanked the Cavaliers in 3 1/3 innings, striking out three and giving up just two hits. Curtis earned his second save of the season.
Junior Matt Littrell and Mittermaier had two hits apiece for Ashland and six Eagles had at least one RBI.
AU took a 2-0 lead in the first on back-to-back RBI doubles by Barleben and Ludwig. The Cavaliers tied it in the third on Conner's two-run home run, the first of three on the day for him.
Vanata reached on a one-out walk in the fourth before freshman Micah Allen unloaded on the first pitch he saw and sent it over the wall in left-center for his third homer of the season.
Allen added an RBI single in the sixth and Littrell drew a bases-loaded walk to cap the scoring.
Smith (2-0) tossed four-plus innings, giving up two runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out one in earning the victory. Slavik relieved him in the fourth, getting out of a jam before keeping the Cavaliers off the board the rest of the way. He earned his first save of the season with three shutout innings.
Allen was 2-for-3 with three RBI to lead the AU offense, which out-hit Walsh, 6-5. Conner provided three of the five hits for the Cavaliers.
The Eagles will now head to Allendale, Mich. on Friday (April 13) to start a four-game series with GLIAC rival Grand Valley State.