Littrell's Homer, Late Double Plays Lift #17 Eagles Past Panthers

Littrell's Homer, Late Double Plays Lift #17 Eagles Past Panthers

The Ashland University baseball team scored four runs in the fifth inning to overcome a 3-0 deficit and beat Davenport, 4-3, on Monday (April 1) afternoon at Donges Field.

The Eagles (20-3, 5-0 GLIAC), ranked No. 17 in the latest NCBWA poll, are off to their best start in program history and have now won 11 straight games. It is their longest winning streak since the 2007 team won a program-record 13 in a row. Ashland can match that with two wins in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Panthers (13-8, 1-4 GLIAC).

After a sac fly by senior Sam Hawley cut the deficit to 3-1, senior left-hander Matt Littrell stepped in against DU southpaw James Rogers. After falling behind in the count, Littrell lifted a high fly to right field that carried just over the right field fence for a three-run homer to give Ashland a 4-3 lead.

Senior right-hander Devin Peters gave the Eagles a strong start, keeping the Panthers off the board until a two-run single by Gaetano Vallone in the fourth. Davenport, which beat the Eagles in all five matchups last season, added a third run on a double-steal attempt with two outs.

Peters allowed two baserunners in the fifth, but one was cut down by sophomore catcher Logan Stoldt on a stealing attempt. He retired the side in order in the sixth to end his outing.

Junior left-hander Josh Smith came out of the bullpen in the seventh and gave up a single, but induced a double play to end the inning.

The first two batters reached against Smith in the eighth, but he forced Travis Harvey to ground into a double play, expertly turned by sophomore shortstop Austin Eifrid and Littrell. That left a runner at third with two down for closer Chris Slavik, who struck out pinch hitter Darren Rydzewski on three pitches.

Slavik retired Davenport in order in the ninth to earn his second save of the season.

Peters (4-0) remained unbeaten on the year, giving up three runs on eight hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked two. Davenport starter Max Swan did not factor in the decision, allowing two runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings. Rogers (3-1) took the loss in relief.

Littrell led the offense with three of Ashland's eight hits.

The Eagles and Panthers will meet again on Tuesday to finish their abbreviated three-game series. The twinbill is set to start at 2 p.m. at Donges Field.