The Ashland University baseball team led on two occasions against Davenport, but the Panthers came away with an 11-9 victory on Saturday (April 28) afternoon to sweep the Eagles in a four-game series.
The Eagles (26-17, 13-11 GLIAC) leapt out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning as freshman Dillan Smith drew a one-out walk and junior Alex Niecikowski followed with a two-run homer to right field off DU starter Krystien Johnson-Battilana. Two batters later, freshman Austin Eifrid singled, stole second and scored on an RBI hit by junior Matt Littrell.
The Panthers (26-17, 16-8 GLIAC) answered with one run in the bottom of the second and tacked on three in the third to take a 4-3 lead.
It looked like the hosts had pulled away for good with four runs in the fifth, but the Eagles kept fighting.
In the seventh, senior Connor Barleben led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a groundout, and eventually scored on Vanata's groundout to shortstop.
With runners at second and third and two down in the eighth, Barleben tied the game with a single to right field. Senior Greg Ludwig's followed with an RBI hit to give the Eagles a 9-8 lead going into the bottom of the eighth.
The Panthers were able to rally in their last at-bat as Brent Showers' two-run single gave the hosts the lead before Anthony DiPonio's RBI double added an insurance run.
The Eagles put runners on first and second with one out in the ninth, but could not rally to bring the runs in.
Davenport out-hit Ashland, 16-15. Barleben led the Eagles, going 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Eifrid, Vanata, Rogers and Niecikowski each had two hits.
Freshman right-hander Josh Stover got the start and did not factor in the decision. He surrendered four runs (three earned) on four hits in three innings. Stover walked two and struck out two. Junior lefty Zack Whitehead (2-1) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on five hits in 3 1/3 relief innings. Evan Maize (3-0) earned the relief win for the Panthers with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
The Eagles will return to Donges Field on Wednesday (May 2) for an in-region contest against Ohio Dominican. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.