One afternoon, two games and a stretch of four to five hours is the typical workday for the Ashland University baseball. The Eagles never seem to have a problem punching the time clock when they check in. It's those last several hours where they encounter trouble.
Sunday (Apr.29) at Donges Field, the AU baseball team overpowered Findlay, 9-1 in the first game of a doubleheader. In the second game, the Oilers rebounded for an 8-1 victory. That triumph gave the Oilers a split of the four-game series. It also continued a trend where AU has had trouble finishing off doubleheaders. With an extra win or two in those second games, the Eagles would have a little more padding on their resume as they battle to reach the NCAA playoffs. Ashland is 26-20, 18-14 in the GLIAC.
In the first game against Findlay, the Eagles did everything they needed to do to drain any edge the Oilers (16-29, 9-23) were looking to gain. The Eagles scored four times in the first inning and four times in the second. UF starting pitcher Drew Hargrove was gone before the second inning was completed. AU had 14 hits in the game and as usual, got a sterling performance from righty Zach Botjer (Deshler, Ohio/Sinclair C.C.). Botjer (8-3) pitched six innings and allowed a run on four hits. He walked one and struck out four. He only needed 65 pitches to get through six frames.
Outfielder Ethan Houck (Fort Wayne, Ind./Glen Oaks C.C.) went 2-for-2 with four RBI. Houck singled to plate a run in the first inning he swatted a three-run homer in the second inning. That was the first circuit clout of his AU career. Houck was one of five seniors who was recognized between games of the doubleheader.
Lead-off hitter Zach Thompson (Marshalltown, Iowa/Cleveland State) was 3-for-3 and scored a pair of runs. Catcher John Broll (Mississagua, Ont./Genesee C.C.) and outfielder Adam Urbania (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) were both 2-for-2.
AU didn't have as much success stringing together hits in the nightcap. UF"s sophomore left-hander Derek Draper kept the Eagles off balance for much of the game. He gave up six singles in a route-going performance. The only run he allowed came in the first inning when Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) singled to bring home Thompson from third. Thompson started the inning with a single.
The Oilers scored once in the first inning and pushed across four runs in the second to go in front, 6-1. Two more runs in the third inning upped Findlay's working margin to 8-1. The Eagles started senior Joe Malfara (Port Clinton, Ohio), who has pitched well lately. On this day he lasted 1.2 innings and allowed five runs (two earned) on four hits. He was followed to the mound by lefty Cole Hudson (Dresden, Ohio/Zanesville, Ohio), who went 2.2 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits. Ashland used four pitchers in the second game.
The Eagles had a chance to cut into the UF lead in the third inning when they loaded the bases with one out. But Draper (2-1) worked out of that jam and over the last four innings, allowed only two hits.
Riley Christian, Garrett Busch and Dustin Zielaskiewicz had two hits each for the Oilers. Christian and Victor Migliore drove in two runs apiece. Findlay had 11 hits.
The Eagles have one four-game series left in the regular season. That comes next weekend (May 5-6) when AU visits Hillsdale.