Eagles Suffer Road Woes, Fall at Tiffin
ASHLAND, Ohio – Last weekend, the AU baseball team finished an eight-game homestand with a four-game sweep of Saginaw Valley State. Overall, the Eagles were 7-1 in their last eight games, all at Donges Field.
On Wednesday (April 18) afternoon, Tiffin showed the Eagles just how hard it is to win on the road in the GLIAC, no matter the momentum the visiting team brings with it. The Dragons swept AU in a doubleheader, 2-1 in eight innings in the opener and 10-4 in Game 2.
The Eagles fell to 5-7 in true road games this season. AU is 11-2 at Donges Field.
Wednesday's first game was a pitcher's duel between Ashland right-hander Brad Thomas (Orrville, Ohio) and Tiffin's Pat Curtin.
The pair each gave up a run in the first inning, but both shut out their opponents for the remainder of regulation. With two outs and two on in the bottom of the eighth, Val Helldobler ripped a walk-off double to right field to give the Dragons the win.
The Eagles (22-14, 14-8 GLIAC) got their run with the help of some early wildness from Curtin. Senior Zach Thompson (Marshalltown, Iowa/Cleveland State) led off with a single. Two walks loaded the bases with two outs and senior Ethan Houck (Fort Wayne, Ind./Glen Oaks CC) was hit by a pitch to give the Eagles an early lead.
The Dragons (13-22, 8-14 GLIAC) countered in the bottom of the first as Ryan Locke was hit by a pitch with two outs and Jordan Chiero's double brought him home.
From there, the starting pitchers took complete command of the game. The next hit didn't come until Kyle Robinson led off Tiffin's sixth inning with a single off Thomas.
The Eagles recorded their second hit of the game – a Thompson single – in the seventh inning. The hit put runners on the corners with one out, but Curtin escaped harm by getting a pop-out and a groundout.
Tiffin went on to win the game in the eighth inning, getting three hits off Thomas.
Thomas (6-1) suffered his first defeat of the season, but pitched well. He allowed two runs on five hits, walking none and striking out two in the complete game.
Curtin (3-1) earned the win, allowing just one run on two hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Thompson was the only Eagle with a hit in the game. Robinson was the only Tiffin player with two hits.
The Dragons used an eight-run third inning to put the Eagles away in Game 2.
Ashland opened the scoring with a single run in the third inning. Freshman Adam Urbania (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) singled, stole second and went to third on a sacrifice bunt before scoring on a sacrifice fly by freshman Austin Walts (Amherst, Ohio/Steele).
The floodgates opened in the bottom of the inning off AU starter Aaron Hilt (Richmond, Ohio/Edison). The Dragons reached him for eight runs on seven hits, including a dagger two-out, three-run triple by Robinson.
The Eagles chipped away with a pair of runs in the third inning on an RBI single by junior John Broll (Mississauga, Ont./Genesee CC) and a sacrifice fly by Urbania. AU cut Tiffin's lead to 8-4 in the fourth inning on an RBI fielder's choice by sophomore Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder). The Eagles loaded the bases with no outs in the inning, but could not scratch out more than the one run.
The Dragons tacked on a couple more runs in the sixth inning off Ashland reliever Joe Malfara (Port Clinton, Ohio) to finish the scoring.
Hilt (6-4) took the loss for the Eagles, allowing eight runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings. He walked one and struck out one. Malfara worked 3.1 innings of relief and surrendered two runs on four hits.
Tiffin reliever Connor Wendt (1-0) picked up the win, tossing a scoreless inning of relief. Starter David Blalock went four innings and allowed four runs on six hits.
Gray, Urbania and sophomore Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio) had two hits apiece for the Eagles. Derek Koch was 3-for-4 to lead Tiffin offensively.
The Eagles will look to put this doubleheader behind them as they travel to Wayne State for a crucial four-game series this weekend (April 21-22). First pitch on Saturday is set for 1 p.m.