The Ashland University baseball team took a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning, but Davenport tied the game in the eighth and won it on a walk-off grand slam in the 12th to eliminate the Eagles from the GLIAC Tournament on Sunday (May 13) afternoon at the Detroit Police Athletic League Corner Ballpark.
The Eagles (32-20) will now await their NCAA Tournament fate. The field will be announced at 10 p.m. Sunday night in a selection show on NCAA.com.
The Eagles got their fourth straight excellent performance from a starting pitcher. Junior right-hander Chris Slavik was in command for much of the afternoon, giving up single unearned runs in the third and sixth innings. Otherwise, he was outstanding.
Ashland tied the game at 1 in the fifth inning when junior Sam Hawley drew a one-out walk and went to second on a single by freshman Austin Eifrid. After a strikeout, sophomore Carson Mittermaier delivered a two-out RBI hit up the middle plate Hawley.
After the Panthers (33-18) regained the lead in the sixth, the Eagles rallied in the top of the seventh.
Singles by junior Alex Niecikowski and Hawley put runners on the corners and Eifrid lifted a sac fly to center to tie the game. A groundout moved Hawley to second and the Panthers intentionally passed Mittermaier.
That put senior Connor Barleben in a lefty-lefty matchup against DU southpaw Grant Wolfram, who no-hit the Eagles earlier this season. Barleben was unfazed, sending a 2-2 pitch into the gap to give Ashland a 4-2 lead.
Davenport tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, putting two runners on against Slavik before he was lifted for senior Pat Carlozzi. The Panthers hit two sac flies against him to tie the game at 4.
The Eagles had a runner at third in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings, but failed to score the go-ahead run. Ashland left 11 runners on base in the game and five in extra innings.
The Panthers won the game in the bottom of the 12th on a walk-off grand slam by Jacob Buchberger.
Davenport now plays Northwood for the GLIAC Tournament championship, but Northwood has already clinched the GLIAC's automatic berth into the NCAA field because DU is ineligible during its transition to Division II.
Slavik did not factor in the decision, but allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits and two walks. He struck out eight in seven-plus innings. Carlozzi (3-2) took the loss, but did not allow a hit in his first four relief innings. Pete Zeimis (4-2) earned the relief win for Davenport.
Barleben led the offense, going 3-for-6 with two RBI. Ashland out-hit Davenport, 13-10, and ripped four doubles.